Census Data Drives Apportionment of Congressional Seats

The apportionment of seats in Congress is the Constitutional rationale for the decennial census of the “whole number of persons in each State.” A new fact sheet from the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC shows when and how the apportionment results will be released (including the current proposed revised schedule) and who is included in the count.

Read “AN OVERVIEW OF HOW CENSUS DATA ARE USED TO APPORTION THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.”

Census Bureau Launches Experimental Pulse Surveys During COVID-19 Crisis

The U.S. Census Bureau has launched “two new experimental surveys to measure temporal social and economic trends in the nation’s small businesses and households over the next three months” to “provide insight into the scope of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic response on social and economic measures in the U.S.” While plenty of researchers are running studies of such nature during the COVID-19 crisis, few are likely to reach the Census Bureau’s scale.

The Small Business Pulse Survey is a five minute survey covering questions such as “location closings, changes in employment, disruptions in the supply chain, the use of federal assistance programs, and expectations concerning future operations.” The Bureau intends to post data weekly beginning in mid-May and “to include estimates for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, as well as for the 50 most populated Metropolitan Statistical Areas.” According to a report from the American Economic Association, “There are 940,588 target businesses with a known email address. The SBPS will cover this universe over nine weeks — approximately 105,000 firms will be contacted each week, beginning the week of April 26th. The estimated response rate is 15-20%.”

The Household Pulse Survey, a collaboration between the Bureau and six other agencies, “will ask individuals about their experiences in terms of employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption” as a longitudinal study. It should “produce statistics at a state level and for the 15 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).” Results will be posted on a weekly basis.

Census Bureau Shares Plan for the 2020 Census Post-Enumeration Survey

The Census Bureau recently released their “Detailed Operational Plan for the Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) Operations” for the 2020 Census. The PES is how the Bureau judges how well they did in a decennial headcount.

According to the plan, “The PES is an interrelated set of operational activities intended to allow the Census Bureau to evaluate coverage of the 2020 Census and provide data to improve future censuses. The Census Bureau conducts the PES to measure the coverage of housing units and people residing in housing units in the 2020 Census.”

Read the full technical document.

Native American Participation in 2020 Census – H. Res. 872

Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK-05) introduced H.Res. 872, a resolution to recognize “the vital importance of Native American participation in the 2020 decennial census of population.”

The resolution recognizes that “2020 census data will be used to evaluate government programs and policies to ensure they fairly and equitably serve the needs of all groups of people and to monitor compliance with antidiscrimination laws, regulations, and policies” and “States will also use 2020 census data to meet legislative redistricting and apportionment requirements.” Tribal nations themselves will use 2020 Census data to make “governmental decisions on allocating resources, the needs of their communities, economic development opportunities, and areas of growth for future decision making.”

Horn was clearly motivated by the fact that “American Indians and Alaska Natives have historically been at a higher risk for undercounting in the census than other populations… the Census Bureau estimates that American Indians and Alaska Natives living on reservations or in Native villages were undercounted by approximately 4.9 percent” in the 2010 Census.

Read the full text.

Former U.S. Census Bureau Directors Comment on the U.S. Census Bureau Decision to Extend the Start of 2020 Census Field Operations to June 1, 2020

April 14, 2020

The Census Project is sharing this statement from four former Directors of the U.S. Census Bureau on the decision to extend the start of field operations for the 2020 Census:

The Census Bureau has announced that it is adjusting 2020 Census operations to effectively deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.  The Census Bureau will reactivate field offices on June 1, 2020, completing field data collection operations and self-response by October 31, 2020. Additional operations will then complete the census at a level of accuracy and coverage consistent with the demanding standards that have been met 23 times in American history. The genius of the census has always been finding a Plan B when conditions rule out Plan A.  For 2020, Plan B includes a schedule adjustment. The Census Bureau has requested statutory relief from the Congress for an additional 120 days. 

We have discussed these operational and schedule adjustments with the senior career leadership at the Census Bureau.  Based on (1) our extensive experience in planning, executing and often adjusting operations of previous decennial censuses; and (2) our firm conclusion that the extension of the field operations reflect careful analysis by the technical, scientific and operational staff at the Census Bureau, we support the decision and urge Congress to act in concert with it.

The COVID-19 outbreak presents many challenges to our country, one of which is unique to the census already in process when the pandemic hit the country.  The Bureau staff  has put in long hours to:  (1) protect the health and safety of the American public and their employees; (2) adhere to guidance from federal, state, and local authorities; and (3) finish a complete and accurate count of all communities in America.  The best way to support the Census Bureau and our democracy in these difficult times is to be certain you have responded to the 2020 Census. 

If you have not responded, you will soon receive a paper questionnaire in the mail that you can complete, or best, go to www.my2020census.gov and respond online.

Vincent Barabba (1973-76 & 1979-81)Kenneth Prewitt (1998-2001)
Robert Groves (2009–2012)John Thompson (2013-2017)

Urging the Census Bureau to Request Emergency 2020 Census Support, If Needed, ASAP

As Congress considers the next legislative COVID-19 relief package, the leaders of The Census Project asked Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director of the Census Bureau, if the Census Bureau “needs additional funding in FY 2020 or enactment of emergency authorities to complete your mission to conduct a fair and accurate 2020 Census in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.”

With the Census Bureau having to postpone so many decennial operations because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Census Project wanted to make sure that any extra dollars necessary to complete a full and accurate 2020 Census get taken care of ASAP.

“If you are considering a supplemental funding request for the national headcount, we strongly urge you to convey that need to Congressional appropriators immediately.”

Read the full letter from The Census Project.

CHC Letter Requesting Information from the Census Bureau

Recognizing that the Census Bureau “has emergency and disaster-related contingency plans for the decennial operation,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus recently wrote to Dr. Steven Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau, that the COVID-19 crisis “requires a recalibration of the Bureau’s major operations including Update Leave, Update Enumerate, Mobile Questionnaire Assistance, Group Quarters Enumeration, and Non-Response Follow Up.” The caucus further commended the Census Bureau “for prioritizing the health and safety above all in its most recent decision to extend the suspension of in-field operations until at least April 15, 2020.”

However, the letter urged the Census Bureau to share updates with Members of Congress on a whole range of specific concerns relating to employee safety, hiring, training, operations in hard-to-count communities, community partners, the communications plan, the timeline for the census, and census funding.

On funding, the caucus letter specifically asked: “To date, has the Bureau started using its contingency funds? If so, where are these contingency funds being allocated? What portion, if any, has gone directly to equipment to ensure the health and safety of Census Bureau employees? As we continue to amplify the ability to self-respond, can or has the Bureau used contingency funding to set up a system that would allow operators to take calls over the internet from any remote locations in light of health concerns?”

Read the full April 3  Congressional Hispanic Caucus letter.

House Oversight Pings the Census Bureau for Response

With the Census Bureau postponing field operations because of the coronavirus pandemic, House Oversight Committee Democrat leaders reached out to Census Director Dillingham on Census Day to request responses to their previous inquiries and a request for a video briefing with members of the committee.

“This year’s Census comes at a perilous time for our nation, with a public health crisis upending daily life and creating unforeseen challenges to completing an accurate count of every person in the United States.”

Read the letter from Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chair Jamie Raskin.

Predicting What You’ll See from 2020 Census Results

“While we do not have the specific details of this picture yet, it is possible to make some educated predictions about what the 2020 census will tell us.”

According to Dr. William Frey of the Brookings Institution, even though we’re still only in the self-response period of the 2020 headcount, we can draw upon “recent population estimates, surveys, and projections conducted by the Census Bureau and others” to predict what the 2020 Census could ultimately demonstrate, such as lower population growth rates than that to which we’ve become accustomed, faster growth in the west, Texas, and Florida than elsewhere, faster growth in the senior citizen demographic than younger ones, and increased racial/ethnic diversity.

None of this obviates the need to complete a full and accurate count of the American population this year, of course – think of it more as a potential sneak peak!

Read the full details of his demographic predictions.

Schatz-Smith letter to CJS re. FY21 Census Funding

Through April 6, Senators Schatz and Smith are circulating the below letter for signature in support of funding the Census Bureau in Fiscal Year 2021. 

Thank you for considering this opportunity to support the Census Bureau.


Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Shaheen:

As you consider fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations, we write to respectfully request your support for $1.681 billion for the Census Bureau as a minimum funding level, with $1.392 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account and $288.4 million for the Current Surveys and Programs account. 

The decennial census is a cornerstone of our constitutional system of government.  It is used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College and helps to guide the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding for healthcare, education, roads and bridges, first responders, rural businesses, and other vital services.  Census data also allows the private sector to make sounds investments by identifying unsaturated or merging growth markets and develop business plans and loan applications.

As the 2020 Census concludes, the Census Bureau will need adequate resources to process decennial census data and submit it to the president for apportionment by December 31, 2020 and to the states for redistricting by April 2, 2021.  Among the other post-decennial census needs, the Census Bureau must also conduct its post-enumeration survey and close 2020 Census field operations.  To properly execute its duties, the Census Bureau must have adequate resources to support its ongoing operations, such as the decennial census data output and the American Communities Survey (ACS).  The Census Bureau will also be developing new data confidentiality tools and software and applying these items to its data products.

The Census Bureau’s FY 2021 funding request anticipates using $389 million in carryover funding to support conclusion of 2020 Census data compilation and publication and ongoing research and development operations.  Carryover funding will also be used to transition the Census Bureau to a new system for storing and cross-referencing data and reconfiguring and relocating three key Census Bureau offices. 

The Census Bureau’s FY 2021 request does not account for the use of its FY 2020 contingency funds, a significant portion of which will be used to ensure the Bureau adequately responds to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  We ask that the Committee provide flexibility to increase the Census Bureau’s discretionary appropriations in light of these unplanned expenditures.

Furthermore, of the amounts appropriated for the Census Bureau, we recommend restoring $9 million for the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which is used to estimate future costs and coverage of government programs.

We thank you for your continued support of the Census Bureau.

Sincerely,