December 2019 Census Project Update


On the eve of the 2020 Census, Congress finalized the funding necessary for the U.S. headcount. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1158 on December 17, “minibus” legislation to fund much of the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, including $6.7 billion for the 2020 Census (almost $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau overall). The Senate followed suit on December 19, and the President signed the bill into law on December 20 (Public Law No. 116-93).

The Census Project had organized a stakeholder letter with more than 200 organizations and companies in support of final full-year FY2020 funding on December 6.

The full funding should allow the Census Bureau to reduce the risk of some looming threats that could undermine the count, such as natural disasters, cybersecurity attacks, IT failures, or failure of new untested counting methodologies for rural and remote areas.

The minibus’ funding level for the 2020 Census for FY2020 is the same as passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee this fall, $1.4 billion more than that requested by the White House ($5.3 billion), and $800 million below the House-passed CJS Appropriations level ($7.5 billion). It comes in addition to more than a billion dollars in funds carried over from FY2018, giving the Bureau all the resources needed to fully fund major 2020 operations, as well as a contingency fund.

The report accompanying H.R. 1158 specified that it “supports no less than the level of effort for outreach and communications that was utilized in preparation for the 2020 Decennial Census, adjusted for inflation.”

2020 Census in the News

Bill O’Hare of O’Hare Data and Demographic Services LLC explored recent research on “why young children are missed so often in the Census. These studies reveal that young children are often missed because a large share of respondents do not think they are supposed to include young children in their census questionnaire. The evidence to support this idea has grown dramatically in the past few years.”

O’Hare said that these studies suggest “a strong public education campaign is required to get a more complete count of young children in the 2020 Census. Families need to be told explicitly that young children are supposed to be included in the Census. A vague message about counting everyone is less likely to be effective.”

Census Bureau Updates

2020 Census operations

The Census Bureau shared details of its paid media strategy to mobilize public participation in the 2020 Census. As explained further by VMLY&R, the 3-phase campaign launches in mid-January.

The Bureau launched its first set of advertisements for the 2020 Census in Alaska, about a month ahead of the 2020 Census kick off in remote Alaska in January. The advertisements will inform those living in approximately 220 Alaska Native villages that a census taker will soon visit their home to count them in the 2020 Census. This will be the first time the Census Bureau has aired ads targeted at remote Alaska audiences for a decennial census.

Census Deputy Director Ron Jarmin announced the pooling of Bureau communications and external resources in a Trust & Safety Team “to ensure the public is properly educated on how the 2020 Census affects everyone.”

In response to a Reuters story heavily critical of 2020 Census preparations, the Census Bureau claimed that the story “contains inaccuracies and outdated information.”

Reports on census tests

The Census Bureau released the final version of its 2019 Census Test Report, following survey research into “the operational implications of a proposed question on citizenship status on the 2020 Census.” According to the research, “in some areas and for some subgroups, there were statistically significant lower self-response rates for the test questionnaire with the citizenship question than for the test questionnaire without the citizenship question.”

Finally, the Bureau also released a report on the 2017 Census Test, a nationwide self-response test assessing the feasibility of collecting information on tribal enrollment, which is distinct from American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) racial identification.

Data releases

The Bureau released national and state population estimates on December 30. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration will increase the U.S. population by one person every 19 seconds. Resulting news stories and analysis (see a couple below in News You Can Use) demonstrated the potential impact on congressional redistricting.

New 5-year estimates from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey (ACS) were released on December 19.

The U.S. Census Bureau released new demographic data for 22 countries in the International Data Base. Eleven of these countries are in Africa, five in the Americas, the three in the Middle East, two in Oceania and one in Europe.

New data from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) provide up-to-date, single-year income and poverty statistics for the nation’s 3,141 counties and 13,197 school districts.

New school enrollment data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) was released.

News You Can Use

Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in December. For a complete listing, go to:

Projection shows Florida and North Carolina among states that could gain congressional seats after Census
December 31, 2019

U.S. Population Makes Fewest Gains in Decades, Census Bureau Says
The New York Times
December 31, 2019

Census Bureau Finds Latinos, Asians Sensitive To Now-Blocked Citizenship Question
December 30, 2019

‘Noise’ pollution: Census privacy efforts may muddy data
CQ-Roll Call
December 20, 2019

Census effort gets $7.6 billion funding, ‘friended’ by Facebook
Roll Call
December 19, 2019

Top 5 Washington Predictions for 2020: Census count will be a challenge
Morning Consult
December 18, 2019

Census Bureau Works to Combat Disinformation About 2020 Count
The Wall Street Journal
December 17, 2019

In 2020 Census, Big Efforts in Some States. In Others, Not So Much.
The New York Times
December 15, 2019

Census Still Has More Steps to Take to Ensure It Doesn’t Hire More Child Sex Offenders, IG Says
Government Executive
December 12, 2019

U.S. Census Bureau Rolls Out Innovation Tools for 2020 Count
Government Technology
December 11, 2019

Special Report: 2020 U.S. census plagued by hacking threats, cost overruns
December 4, 2019

Census hiring systems have issues, report says, but bureau begs to differ
December 2, 2019

A 2020 Census Undercount Could Cost Texas $300 Million, More Seats In Congress
Texas Public Radio
December 1, 2019