Tracking Progress on the 2020 Census in “Real Time”

Census stakeholders are generally interested in knowing how well the 2020 Census is doing on self-response. With the self-response period launching just as the coronavirus and our reaction to it cascades across the United States, a high level of self-response has become even more important to a successfully accurate and complete decennial headcount.

As explained by consultant Terri-Ann Lowenthal in a fact sheet for the Funders Census Initiative, the rates of self-response reported by the Census Bureau don’t measure the accuracy of the 2020 Census, but they can be useful in keeping track of how the census is doing and what areas may need greater engagement.

“Self-response rates do not represent the percent of people who have responded,” the fact sheet stated, only “the percent of all residential housing units on the Census Bureau’s Master Address File (for a given geographic area) that responded to the census online, by phone, or using a paper questionnaire.”

The Bureau intends to report on self-response rates every day from March 20 through June for most of the country, including separate rates for web-based self-response.

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