Since October 1, Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 has seen a series of continuing resolutions while leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have been debating details of the 12 appropriations bills that fund all federal agencies. Almost three months later, and two days before Christmas, both chambers of Congress passed and sent to President Biden a 4,126-page FY 2023 omnibus appropriations bill. On December 29, President Biden signed the bill into law, ensuring all federal agencies, including the Census Bureau, will be funded through September 30, 2023.
Prior to its passage, The Census Project posted a blog summarizing the bill’s major census-related provisions. In sum, the bill provides the Census Bureau with $1.485 billion, including $330 million for the Current Surveys and Programs account and $1.155 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account. The $1.485 billion in the FY 2023 omnibus for the Census Bureau is a $131 million increase over FY 2022, but $20.47 million less than the Administration’s budget request.
A report accompanying the bill expresses congressional priorities and intent regarding several census related activities and programs:
- For fiscal year 2023, the Census Bureau is directed to continue following the directives and reporting requirements in the joint explanatory statement accompanying Public Law 116-260 on “Ensuring the Integrity and Security of Surveys and Data,” “Utilizing Libraries and Community Partners for Census Surveys,” and “American Community Survey.”
- Disclosure Avoidance – The agreement directs the Census Bureau to work closely with its advisory committees, stakeholders representing public interests, and the data user community to ensure the availability of useful data products, especially for population groups in rural and remote areas, while protecting the confidentiality of personal data. The Census Bureau shall continue to consult regularly with data users on disclosure avoidance methods under consideration for all data products and programs.
- Race and Ethnicity Data Accuracy – The Census Bureau is directed to provide a report to the Committees, no later than 180 days after enactment of this act, on its plan for implementing updated race and ethnicity questions for its surveys, including the American Community Survey and the 2030 Decennial Census, and whether the Census Bureau believes that additional testing is necessary.
- Ask U.S. Panel Survey – The Census Bureau is directed to provide a report to the Committees, no later than 90 days following enactment of this act, on the Ask U.S. Panel Survey‘s methodology, data collection processes, implementation, incurred and projected costs, procurement strategy, and plans to address any recommendations made by the Inspector General.
The 118th Congress convenes on January 3, 2023. Congress will begin deliberating the FY 2024 appropriations bills after President Biden submits his proposed budget in February 2023.
Senator Schatz Introduces Census Reform Bill
On December 15, in the final days of the 117th Congress, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced a bill, S. 5270, to improve the operations of the U.S. Census Bureau. The measure is similar to legislation that the House of Representatives passed in September. Like its House companion, the Senate bill would: limit the number of political appointees to four individuals, including the director; authorize the Deputy Director to be a career civil servant appointed by the Census Bureau Director; designate a Bureau employee responsible for “optimizing racial and ethnic equity” in the census; and mandate the agency to report its decennial census lifecycle cost estimates by the start of 2026. Unlike the House bill, the Senate version does not allow the president to remove the bureau’s director “only for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.”
In an interview with National Public Radio, Senator Schatz conceded that the bill will not be acted on before the 117th Congress adjourns. He stated that he introduced the bill to “lay down a marker because a lot of times people don’t think of the census until it’s census time.” He plans to reintroduce the measure when the 118th Congress convenes in January 2023.
Texas Census Institute Releases Research Report on State’s 2020 Undercount
In a December 27 blog, The Census Project highlighted a new report, “Undercounting and Overcounting Population in Texas Counties,” released by the Texas Census Institute. The report presents a “methodology to estimate undercounting by studying what theoretical factors contributed to it.” In a release, the organization said it hopes “to provide a data-driven exploration of what Texans are counted or not and to pursue ideas for creating an equitable census.”
Census Oversight in 118th Congress Taking Shape
While final decisions regarding committee assignments and committee and subcommittee leadership positions will not be finalized until the 118th Congress convenes in January 2023, in December, details began emerging about key census committee oversight roles. For example, on December 22, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) issued a press release announcing that the House Democratic Caucus had elected him Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee, which is responsible for oversight of the U.S. Census Bureau. He succeeds outgoing Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12). With Republicans now in the majority, Congressman James Comer (R-KY) will be the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
In the Senate, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) is expected to retain his position as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has oversight of the U.S. Census Bureau. His Republican counterpart, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), is expected to be the new Ranking Member of the full committee, replacing Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).
The Census Project will provide a complete update on all census-related leadership and committee changes once the rosters are approved in January 2023.
Census Bureau News
On December 27, the Census Bureau released “The Stories U.S. Census Bureau Data Told in 2022.”
The U.S. resident population increased by 0.4%, or 1,256,003, to 333,287,557 in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2022 national and state population estimates and components of change released on December 22.
On December 15, the Census Bureau announced modified confidentiality protections for the Current Population Survey Public-Use File (CPS PUF), which will be phased in beginning with the January 2023 panel.
Over 40% (19 million) of renter households in the country spent more than 30% of their income on housing costs during the 2017-2021 period, according to new American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates released on December 8.
On December 5, the Census Bureau announced the release of Census Business Builder version 5.0, which combines the Regional Analyst Edition and the Small Business Edition into a single, convenient tool.
On December 1, the Census Bureau released a report, Which States Have the Highest Percentage of Vacant Housing Units?, which showed thehousing market tightened significantly after the 2009 foreclosure crisis, absorbing much of the excess vacancy it created.
Census Bureau Data Releases
The enrollment rate at U.S. schools rose slightly between 2020 and 2021, as approximately 1% more people under age 35 enrolled in school, according to data tables released on December 20 from the Current Population Survey.
Data from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program, which provides the only up-to-date, single-year income and poverty statistics for all of the nation’s 3,142 counties and 13,157 school districts, was released on December 15. The data are used to allocate funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Data from the 2021 Annual Capital Expenditures Survey (ACES) highlighting the industries with the largest total capital expenditures for structures and equipment for companies with employees in 2021 was released on December 15.
U.S. merchant wholesalers had sales of $9,671.3 billion in 2021, a 20.4% increase from $8,034.8 billion in 2020, according to estimates from the Annual Wholesale Trade Survey (AWTS) released on December 14.
On December 14, the Census Bureau released new Business Formation Statistics (BFS) for November 2022. The BFS provide timely and high frequency information on new business applications and formations in the United States.
On December 13, the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released new public use files for the 2021 Rental Housing Finance Survey (RHFS). The RHFS provides measures of financial, mortgage and property characteristics for U.S. residential properties with at least one housing rental unit.
On December 8, the Census Bureau released data from the Business Trends and Outlook Survey (BTOS), a survey that measures business conditions on an ongoing basis. The BTOS is the successor to the Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS), a high-frequency survey that measured the effect of changing business conditions during the coronavirus pandemic and other major events like hurricanes on our nation’s small businesses.
News You Can Use
Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in December 2022. For a complete listing, go to: https://thecensusproject.org/recent-media/.