November 2020 Census Project Update


On November 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations bills. Normally, the Senate Appropriations Committee would have debated its bills in the spring and, ideally, sent their bills to the full Senate for consideration prior to October 1—the first day of the new fiscal year. However, because of an impasse regarding the terms of debate, the Committee failed to take up and pass any of these bills–the first time since 1945 that no appropriations bills were marked up in the U.S. Senate!

Currently, a continuing resolution is funding the federal government through December 11. In mid-November, Congress reconvened for a post-election “lame duck” session. A major objective of the session is to negotiate a final FY 2021 omnibus funding measure incorporating all 12 FY 2021 appropriations bills. To that end, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its proposed recommendations to facilitate negotiations with the U.S. House of Representatives, which considered and passed 10 of its 12 FY 2021 appropriations bills earlier this year. The proposed Senate FY 2021 mark for the Census Bureau is $1.79 billion, which is more funding than requested originally in the FY 2021 President’s Budget (nearly $1.672 billion), and more than in either The Census Project’s FY 2021 budget request (just over $1.681 billion), or in the  FY 2021 CJS bill passed by the House on July 31 (also just over $1.681 billion).

A report accompanying the Senate bill includes several provisions of interest to census stakeholders, including language in support of the American Community Survey, Survey of Income and Program Participation, and the 2020 Census. (See The Census Project’s blog for additional details, and also see this overview from the Congressional Research Service) Leaders of the major census stakeholder coalitions, including The Census Project, sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging adoption of the proposed Senate mark for the Census Bureau in the final FY 2021 omnibus funding measure.

Currently, negotiations between members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee are underway. It is not clear if the deliberations will yield a final FY 2021 omnibus funding bill or if negotiations will stall, requiring another short or long-term continuing resolution.

Policy Update

President-Elect Biden Announces Agency Review Teams
In mid-November, President-Elect Biden announced the formation of agency review teams comprised of experts charged with reviewing all federal agencies and issuing recommendations to the incoming Administration. The Department of Commerce team includes several census experts, including Dr. Nancy Potok, former Chief Statistician of the United States, and Dr. Denice Ross, Georgetown University Beeck Center (who is a member of The Census Project’s Advisory Committee).

Census Announces it Cannot Produce State Population Totals by December 31
On November 19, the Census Bureau disclosed that several anomalies discovered during the 2020 Census data processing operation will preclude the agency from completing and delivering state population totals by the end of the year. Instead, the agency estimates it cannot produce state population totals, which are used to inform the apportionment process, until at least January 26 or perhaps mid-February 2021.

Silver Lining of the 2020 Census is Renewed Transparency
Former Census Director Ken Prewitt explained in a Census Project blog that “a silver lining in 2020 is that what had been largely invisible is now very visible. As the field operations wind down, the centrality of quality indicators in the census process is being prominently highlighted.  Going forward, this centrality will be protected by census stakeholders, will be demanded by census data users, will be improved by academics, will be discussed and debated in the press, will be legally protected and will find its way into legislation. In time, the results of the quality checks will be viewed as no less important than enumeration itself.”

Appointees to the Census Scientific Advisory Committee
On November 24, the Census Bureau confirmed it had appointed two individuals, Dr. William Clark, Pennsylvania State University, and Dr. Thomas Brunell, University of Texas-Dallas, to fill vacancies on the Census Scientific Advisory Committee. Dr. Brunell’s appointment drew criticism from organizations concerned about his views regarding redistricting.  

SCOTUS Hears Arguments on Administration Memo to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants from Apportionment Count
On November 30, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding a lower court ruling that determined the Trump Administration cannot exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census apportionment count. The Trump administration brought the case to the Supreme Court after a panel of New York federal judges ruled in September that a presidential memorandum to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count was unlawful. Since the New York ruling, two other federal courts (in Maryland and California) issued similar opinions.

Census Bureau News

On November 24, the Census Bureau announced plans to host a virtual conference December 9-11 regarding The Opportunity Project (TOP).

Temporary census workers were paid on November 24, November 17, November 10, and November 3.

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced on November 19 the discovery of anomalies in 2020 Census post-collection processing.

On November 9, the Census Bureau issued a statement in response to allegations of falsified respondent information being submitted during the 2020 Census.

Census Bureau Data Releases

On November 25, the Census Bureau released new data from the third phase of the Small Business Pulse Survey

The Census Bureau has released new and updated North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) codes as part of the 2017 Economic Census. 

New data from the Small Business Pulse Survey was released on November 19.

The third phase of the experimental Household Pulse Survey was released on November 18.

On November 17, the Census Bureau released new statistics that highlight geographic mobility and place of birth at the state level. The data are from the 2019 American Community Survey.

On November 10, the Census Bureau released data describing commuting patterns of older U.S. workers, drawing from 2013-2017 American Community Survey data.

A new report on employment of post 9-11 veterans compared to nonveterans was released on November 10.

Data from the second phase of the experimental Household Pulse Survey was released on November 4.

News You Can Use

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

What does California have to lose if undocumented immigrants are excluded from the census?
The Sacramento Bee
November 23, 2020

Controversial Academic Named To Census Panel In Waning Days Of Trump
Talking Points Memo
November 23, 2020

Census Officials Say They Can’t Meet Trump’s Deadline for Population Count
The New York Times
November 19, 2020

Census workers from across US are raising big concerns about this year’s count
November 18, 2020

Experts urge ‘radical transparency’ in 2020 Census count
The Washington Post
November 13, 2020

Census case that led to head count halt heads back to court
Associated Press
November 13, 2020

Can President-Elect Biden Redo The 2020 Census? It’s Complicated
November 12, 2020

Advisory group worried about rural census, crunched timeline
Associated Press
November 12, 2020

Census Bureau denies reports of falsifying data
Associated Press
November 10, 2020

Third court blocks Trump’s order on who gets counted to allocate congressional seats
Associated Press
November 6, 2020

Confusion, pandemic made surveying hard-to-count areas during 2020 Census even harder, community leaders say
Times Herald-Record
November 2, 2020

Census Records Must Be Shared Before Reappointment, Judge Rules
Bloomberg Law
November 2, 2020

Officials: Vegas homeless may have gone uncounted by census
Las Vegas Review-Journal
November 1, 2020