February 2020 Census Project Update


The White House released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request on February 10, 2020. The 2020 Census will wrap up in FY 2021 and funding normally drops precipitously in year 1 of the decennial cycle, reflected in the White House’s request. The Administration asked for $1,392,709,000 for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account, and $279,268,000 for the Current Surveys and Programs account, with $1,671,977,000 for the Census Bureau overall.

After significant analysis and discussion (and recognizing significant uncertainties in details about current spending levels on the 2020 Census), The Census Project recommended that the Census Bureau receive $1,681,112,000 in FY 2021 This amount, which is an additional $9.135 million over the Administration’s request, would restore a proposed cut to the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The White House’s overall budget request for the Census Bureau aligns with expectations based on prior decennial cycles and mostly reflects the revised lifecycle cost estimate for 2020 Census spending in FY 2021.

See The Census Project’s appropriations request for full details.

2020 Census in the News

  • Professor Andrew Reamer and George Washington University’s “Counting for Dollars 2020″ project released a groundbreaking new study demonstrating the annual state-by-state distribution of $1.5 trillion in Census-directed funding to states and localities. The state numbers are staggering – eleven states each received over $40 billion from census-guided federal funding. The new study finds that census-guided funding drives a substantial proportion of the U.S. economy – 9.0% of personal income in 2017. The annual U.S. total of $1.5 trillion is a significant increase from the project’s last major state-level compilation (published in spring 2019).
  • “At least 4 million U.S. children under age 5 live in neighborhoods with a very high risk of undercounting young children in the 2020 Census.” That’s the warning from a recent Population Reference Bureau (PRB) study with researcher Bill O’Hare, which identified predictive factors for where they’re “most likely to be missed” and new risk measurement.
  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing with Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham on February 12, 2020 for a status update on the 2020 Census. Staff from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) also testified on a new report: “2020 Census Initial Enumeration Underway but Readiness for Upcoming Operations Is Mixed.”

Census Bureau Updates

2020 Census operations

Between March 12 and March 20, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will start arriving in households across the country. The Census Bureau provided a timeline for 2020 Census response.

Census Director Dillingham announced on February 25 that the Bureau reached its goal of 300,000 partnering organizations nationwide. Community partners include government, community-based organizations, local businesses, schools, Faith-based institutions and more.

The U.S. Census Bureau expanded its massive multimedia advertising campaign across the nation in February, aiming to reach over 99% of the nation’s 140 million households with messaging about the upcoming 2020 Census and the importance of responding. While ads for reaching multicultural and hard-to-count populations have been running since mid-January, the newest ads are designed to reach everyone. The advertising launched in a variety of media including digital, print and radio on Feb. 17. Televised ads will be broadcast nationwide during highly rated television programming on all major cable and broadcast networks. In addition to English, ads will continue to run in 12 other languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese), French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Ads reaching multicultural and historically undercounted audiences began airing in January.

The U.S. Census Bureau began to release the total number of 2020 Census paid temporary workers that earned any pay during a specific weekly pay period. The data tables include national totals for all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Census Bureau regional geography. A weekly number of paid temporary workers for Puerto Rico is also available. The weekly release will occur 10 days after the end of the weekly period.

The U.S. Census Bureau began contacting group quarters facilities at the beginning of February, ahead of the 2020 Census Group Quarters Operation – the way the Census Bureau ensures an accurate count of individuals who live or stay in a group living arrangement. Group quarters include facilities such as college/university student housing, residential treatment centers, military barracks, nursing/skilled nursing facilities, group homes, and correctional facilities.

The Census Bureau convened faith-based leaders from around the country for the 2020 Census Interfaith Summit to discuss the importance of encouraging members of their communities to respond to the 2020 Census. The summit also highlighted the upcoming Faith Communities Census Weekend of Action, which will take place at houses of worship across the nation March 27-29, 2020.

Census Director Steven Dillingham responded to concerns about the coronavirus: “Operations for the 2020 Census and our ongoing household surveys have procedures built in that specifically anticipate epidemics and pandemics, and we will continue to work with the relevant authorities to keep those up to date.”

The Census Bureau hosted an event to highlight efforts to ensure all young children are counted in the 2020 Census. During a news conference in Cleveland, Ohio, the Federation of Pediatric Organizations (FOPO), a 2020 Census partner, announced that March 25, 2020, is designated as Every Child Counts Day — a day when the pediatric community is encouraged to tell the adults they interact with about counting every child living in their homes in the 2020 Census. (We’ll have a blog post about the event in the next few days.)

The U.S. Census Bureau recently mailed 2020 Census Statistics in Schools (SIS) kits to every school in the nation, providing free activities and materials to use in classrooms during the 2020 Census.

Data releases

The Bureau released a new report on projected life expectancy from 1960 to 2060.

U.S. retail trade sales increased for the entire retail trade sector (NAICS 44-45) by 4.3% from $5,053.2 billion in 2017 to $5,269.5 billion in 2018, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS).

U.S. wholesalers experienced a 7.4% increase in sales in 2018, according to estimates from the Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS).

News You Can Use

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

Census hiccups in Alaska may offer preview for rest of US
Associated Press
February 28, 2020

How groups are ‘pulling out all the stops’ to accurately count people of color for census 2020
USA Today
February 28, 2020

Census Advocates Spread the Word on New Online Forms
February 27, 2020

How the US census misses people of color – and why it’s so harmful
The Guardian
February 27, 2020

AP-NORC Poll: Most Americans Plan to Participate in Census
Associated Press
February 25, 2020

Census 2020 just weeks away: Q&A with director Steven Dillingham on citizenship question, last-minute concerns, more during Cleveland visit
February 24, 2020

White and Black people to get more room on 2020 census to explain their origins
February 24, 2020

Making sure rural gets counted
The Sampson Independent
February 21, 2020

The Census Bureau wants a deep data lake
Federal Times
February 20, 2020

‘We Are Part Of The United States’: The 1st People Counted For The 2020 Census
February 19, 2020

Shift to digital census raises fear of Iowa-like breakdown
Associated Press
February 15, 2020

How is Twitter hoping to combat 2020 Census misinformation?
Government Technology
February 13, 2020

Lawmakers, Advocates Worry Bureau Won’t Fill Half Million 2020 Census Jobs
February 11, 2020

Study: West Virginia relies most on census-guided funding
Associated Press
February 11, 2020

Rural and Poorest States Depend on Census Most
February 10, 2020

The 2020 Census Has Set Off Political Fights. 100 Years Ago, It Did Too.
February 6, 2020

Illinois Census Outreach Money Still Hasn’t Been Distributed
Associated Press
February 2, 2020