April 2021 Census Project Update

No rest for the Census weary. With only the first results from the 2020 Decennial released last month, census stakeholders are already turning their attention to 2022, especially the need to fund major new innovations at the Census Bureau. New leadership is coming to the Bureau as well, as President Biden nominated a new Census Director.

Appropriations Update

In response to the mid-April release of President Biden’s “skinny budget,” an outline of the Administration’s upcoming detailed Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal, leaders of The Census Project reminded stakeholders and Congress of the need for greater investment in modernization of the Census Bureau’s work, while expressing concern that the Administration made no mention of the Bureau.

While the Administration hasn’t released their full budget yet, and the Appropriations Committees haven’t introduced funding legislation for FY 2022, the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for May 6 on the Commerce Department’s budget request, featuring Commerce Secretary Raimondo.

On April 28, The Census Project sent the leaders of the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee a letter signed by over 50 national, state, and local organizations urging the subcommittees to provide the Census Bureau with $2 billion in FY 2022, in line with The Census Project’s budget recommendation from last month.

Census Bureau Leadership Update

On April 13, President Biden announced his intention to nominate Dr. Robert Santos to serve as the next Census Bureau Director. Currently, Dr. Santos is Vice President & Chief Methodologist at the Urban Institute, Washington, D.C. He is an expert in survey sampling, survey design and more generally in social science/policy research, with over 40 years of experience. Dr. Santos is also the current President of the American Statistical Association. He has served on numerous advisory committees, including the Census Advisory Committee for Professional Organizations (2001-2006), and the CDC National Center for Health Statistics’ Board of Scientific Counselors (2017-2020). The Census Bureau Director’s position requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, Dr. Santos would be the first person of color to permanently head the agency.

Policy Update

Apportionment count released

On April 26, the U.S. Census Bureau announced the first major results from the 2020 Census— state population counts used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The results included the following:

  • The resident U.S. population (as of April 1, 2020) is 331,449,281 million.
  • This number represents a 7.4% increase over the 2010 Census population total.
  • While the nation’s population has increased since the last decennial census, the growth rate was lower than experienced between the 2000 and 2010 Census. making it the second lowest rate of growth that the nation has experienced since the census began in 1790.
  • In terms of the number of congressional seats each state gained or lost, Texas gained the most (2 seats), while 5 states gained one seat (Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon). Seven states (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) lost a congressional seat.

It should be noted that the U.S. resident population represents the total number of people living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The apportionment count includes military and civilian personnel stationed overseas and their families.

In preparation for the apportionment data release, the Census Project reminded stakeholders that the state apportionment counts differ significantly from the final 2020 state population totals that will come later, as well as the annual Population Estimates for each state. The apportionment calculation is based upon the total resident population (citizens and noncitizens) of the 50 states. We also recommended a new online Census Bureau tool – the “Historical Apportionment Data Map” – that will help stakeholders work with 2020 Census apportionment data.

Extending 2020 Census reporting deadlines

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) and Don Young (R-AK) reintroduced the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act (S. 1267 and H.R. 2699), legislation that would grant the Census Bureau the statutory authority to deliver 2020 Census results on a necessarily-delayed timeline.

As explained by the sponsors in the House sponsors’ 1-pager, “it reestablishes Congress’ authority over how the Decennial Census is conducted, provides the time necessary for career experts to properly process the data, and ensures that data delivered on behalf of the American people is complete and accurate.”

“The Census Bureau should take all the time it needs to report its data and make sure every person is counted as mandated by the Constitution,” said Sen. Schatz, while Sen. Murkowski commented that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the Census Bureau’s timeframes needed to process the data. By extending the statutory deadlines we will better ensure that the United States has the most accurate census count possible.”

Differential privacy

In a filing with a U.S. District Court in Alabama that was made public this week, the Census Bureau’s Chief Scientist, John Abowd swore a declaration that amounts to a comprehensive history of the Census Bureau’s legal, statistical, and moral responsibility to keep respondent information confidential. Abowd made the core point that every survey the government conducts relies on trust that the personal information respondents volunteer will remain confidential. “Though participation in the census is mandatory under 13 U.S. Code § 221, in practice, the Census Bureau must rely on the voluntary participation of each household in order to conduct a complete enumeration,” the chief scientist wrote. This ethic at the Bureau dates as far back as when Congress first established confidentiality protections for individual census responses in the Census Act of 1879. The declaration amounts to an expansive history lesson on how privacy protections have evolved over the decades at the Census Bureau. It describes why privacy is vital to government surveys and censuses that support a wide array of critical government and societal functions at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels.

Census quality measurement

For the first time ever, the Census Bureau released some process indicators (in tandem with the apportionment counts) — our first hint of how well the 2020 count went. These indicators will not tell us about important metrics on the overall quality or completeness of the count, (such as the net undercount or the differential undercount across race subgroups), but they begin to tell the story of how well the Bureau adapted to disruptions in operations cause by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A new working paper from the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (prior to that release) found that “the 2020 Census likely will contain similar inaccuracies seen in past censuses.” Authors Bill O’Hare and Jae June Lee analyzed “self-response rates as an early indicator,” albeit an imperfect one, “of differential census data quality (i.e. the gaps in census coverage between groups and geographic areas).” These kind of “census process indicators… can provide early evidence about the likely differential quality of the census.” The paper examined “whether historically undercounted groups have relatively low self-response rates to the 2020 Census” to try to “uncover early evidence about whether historical patterns of unequal coverage in the census were likely repeated in the 2020 Census.”

Census Bureau News

  • The U.S. Census Bureau released a statement, in response to the settlement in the National Urban League v. Raimondo case, that the Bureau was “pleased that we were able to reach a resolution with the plaintiffs… We share an interest in transparency and a complete and accurate census. Our census partners have played an essential role in encouraging response to the 2020 Census across the country during these unprecedented times. We continue to focus on processing and releasing data from the 2020 Census which represents the culmination of over a decade of dedicated work by many federal employees. We will take the time needed to produce 2020 Census data that meets our quality standards as a statistical agency.”
  • The U.S. Census Bureau released a new set of “demonstration data” to help the data user community evaluate the latest update to the new Disclosure Avoidance System that will protect published 2020 Census Public Law (P.L.) 94-171 Redistricting data. The demonstration data used previously released 2010 Census data to illustrate the impact of the latest iteration of the new system. As with previous censuses, the disclosure avoidance methods – also known as differential privacy – are not applied to the apportionment census counts. The Bureau encouraged data users to “closely analyze today’s demonstration data” and provide feedback to them. Data users are encouraged to analyze the demonstration data and share their feedback with the Census Bureau directly at 2020DAS@census.gov. (Include “April PPMF” in the subject line.) The Bureau is accepting feedback until May 28, 2021.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau named new leaders and members to its National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations (NAC): James Tucker (Chair), Cherokee Bradley (Vice Chair), Brisa Sanchez, Helen Hatab Samhan, Rosemary Rodriguez, Karthick Ramakrishnan, Daniel Lichter, Iheoma Iruka, Florencia Gutierrez, Julio Guity-Guevara, D’Lane Compton, Richard Chang, and Gina Adams. The NAC is scheduled to hold its Spring 2021 meeting virtually May 6-7.
  • The Bureau hosted a technical webinar in preparation for the release of 2020 Census quality metrics.

Census Bureau Data Releases

  • At a press conference, the U.S. Census Bureau announced, along with the Congressional apportionment counts on April 26, that “the 2020 Census shows the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281.”
  • Also on April 26, the Bureau released information about the quality of the 2020 Census from two methods: (1) analyses that compare the first census results to other ways of measuring the population, and (2) metrics that provide insight into the census operations.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau released findings from the Educational Attainment in the United States: 2020 table package, using “statistics from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement to examine the educational attainment of adults age 25 and older by demographic and social characteristics such as age, sex, race, nativity, industry and occupation.”
  • A Bureau report, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2018, examines trends in computer and internet use in 2018 at the national, state and county levels, based on statistics from the American Community Survey (ACS).
  • The 2019 County Business Patterns (CBP) series was released by the Census Bureau, “which provides detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employment, and first quarter and annual payroll at the national, state, metropolitan/micropolitan statistical area, combined statistical area, county, and congressional district levels for 970 industries defined by the 2017 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).”
  • A new Census Bureau report, “Commuting by Public Transportation in the United States: 2019,”  demonstrated “that 70% of the nation’s public transportation commuters live in one of the seven largest metropolitan areas. The report describes the distribution of public transportation commuters across different transit modes and summarizes key geographic, demographic and historical trends. About 5% of all U.S. workers in 2019 commuted by public transportation.”
  • “The 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older voting in the election,” according to new voting and registration tables released by the U.S. Census Bureau from the 2020 Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement for the November 2020 presidential election, which surveyed the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the United States.
  • The Bureau released the 2020 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections, which “provides a comprehensive look at state governments and contains statistics on the tax collections of all state governments, including receipts from compulsory fees. State governments and businesses have been using these statistics to make policy and investment decisions since 1951.”
  • The U.S. Census Bureau announced the release of new states in the Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO) experimental data product: Louisiana, Ohio, Maine and Connecticut. “With the addition of these new states, 336 institutions are included in the PSEO covering approximately 16% of all graduates in the United States in 2015.”
  • The Number, Timing and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2016 report was released by the Bureau. It uses data from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates, 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Wave 1, and 2014 Social Security Administration Supplement to provide a uniquely comprehensive look at marital patterns in the United States.
  • A summary brief for the 2019 Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES) highlighting the industries with the largest total capital expenditures for structures and equipment for companies with employees in 2019 was released by the Census Bureau. Data are based on the 2012 NAICS.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau released the total number of 2020 Census paid temporary workers that earned any pay for March 21-27, March 28 – April 3, April 4 – April 10, and April 11 – April 17.
  • Data from the fourth phase of the Small Business Pulse Survey were released on April 1, April 8, April 15 and April 22.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau released a new data tool to explore changes in vaccination rates and vaccine hesitancy for the nation, states and select population characteristics. The Vaccination Tracker uses data from the Household Pulse Survey which includes questions about COVID-19 vaccinations and attitudes toward vaccinations.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau today announced the beginning of data collection for phase 3.1 of the experimental Household Pulse Survey on April 14.

News You Can Use

Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in April 2021. For a complete listing, go to: https://thecensusproject.org/recent-media/.

Why challenging the census count would be an uphill climb
Spectrum News
April 30, 2021

‘Census Nerds! We Did It!’: Minnesota Exults At Census Win At New York’s Expense
Associated Press
April 30, 2021

After Census Release, a Flood of Lawsuits
The Wall Street Journal
April 30, 2021

Opinion: The 2020 Census is bad news for progressive policy
The Washington Post
April 28, 2021

The winners and losers in the 2020 Census
The Boston Globe
April 28, 2021

What Happened to Census ‘Sabotage’?
Wall Street Journal
April 27, 2021

US marks slowest population growth since the Depression
Associated Press
April 26, 2021

The New House and Electoral College Are Bad News for the Midwest and California
National Review
April 26, 2021

Why census data needs robust confidentiality protections
The Hill
April 24, 2021

Why Deployed Troop Counts Are A ‘Wildcard’ In 2020 Census Results
April 23, 2021

States wary of privacy-protected census data
April 22, 2021

Internal Census Emails Show Bureau Concern Over Data Fuzzing
Bloomberg Law
April 21, 2021

What to know about the San Antonio native tapped to lead U.S. Census Bureau
San Antonio Express-News
April 15, 2021

Get Ready For A Fight As States, Facing Census Delays, Eye Other Data For Redistricting
Talking Points Memo
April 7, 2021

Between census years, the American Community Survey fills in the gaps
Siouxland News
April 6, 2021

Telework Works and Other Workforce Lessons Census Learned During the Pandemic
April 1, 2021