Trump Administration To End Census Count Early, Worrying Experts About Undercount Of Minorities & Cities
The 2020 U.S. Census will end its counting and collection efforts Sept. 30, a month earlier than initially announced.
The changes “will include enumerator awards and the hiring of more employees to accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts by our statutory deadline of December 31, 2020, as required by law and directed by the Secretary of Commerce,” Director Steven Dillingham said in a statement.
“The Census Bureau’s new plan reflects our continued commitment to conduct a complete count, provide accurate apportionment data, and protect the health and safety of the public and our workforce,” he added.
However, the accelerated timeline will likely negatively affect minority communities.
Historically, people of color have been undercounted in the census, resulting in funding and government representation being allocated elsewhere.
For instance, the self-response rate for the most populous Native American reservation is just 14.6%, compared to 63% among the general population.
As many households in the Navajo Nation lack a U.S. postal system address or internet access, the Census Bureau must count them in person – an effort that was paused during the coronavirus outbreak.
The new deadline will include outreach to hard-to-count communities, Dillingham said.
Four former directors of the Census Bureau stressed the importance of having an accurate Census count and called for operations to be extended through next April, in order to properly reflect communities that are underrepresented.
“Having helped to plan, execute or lead five decennial censuses serving nine Presidents of both parties, our expert opinion is that failing to extend the deadlines to April 30, 2021 will result in seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country,” Vincent Barabba, Kenneth Prewitt, Robert Groves and John Thompson said in a statement. “The end result will be under-representation of those persons that [Nonresponse Followup operation] was expected to reach and, at even greater rates for the traditionally hard-to-count populations with potentially extreme differential overcounts.”