October 2020 Census Project Update


Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations funding for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) is on hold, at least until Congress returns for the post-election lame duck session. As discussed last month, the Census Bureau is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) (P.L. 116-159), which will run through December 11. Any final decisions on funding the government for FY 2021 will likely wait until the deadline.

Policy Update

The end of 2020 Census counting operations
On October 13, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a preliminary lower court injunction that had prevented the White House from ending the 2020 Census early. Counting operations ended on October 15, with the Trump Administration still aiming to deliver apportionment data from the 2020 Census on December 31, 2020, as required by statute.

Sens. Michael Rounds (R-SD) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a bipartisan appeal to extend the counting operations, with a particular focus on the native American undercount.

After requesting an extension of the legal deadlines for reporting census data on April 13 so that the Census Bureau could adapt to the pandemic and collect data until October 31, the Administration changed course and sought to end all counting operations a month early (September 30). Court battles extended that, until the Supreme Court issued its stay.
2020 Census in data analysis/review/processing stage
Of course, there’s more to the census than counting operations. Once data collection ended, the Census Bureau turned to the important data analysis, review and processing stage of activities. That work would have taken five months before the pandemic disruptions and delays of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, unless Congress pushes back the statutory reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting data soon, the time for these vital activities will be cut in half, to 2.5 months. (By comparison, this stage took five months for the 2010 Census and more than six in the 2000 Census.)
Stakeholders are still advocating for Congress to approve the bipartisan 2020 Census Deadline Extension Act (S. 4571, H.R. 8250), whether as a stand-alone bill or part of a larger, must-pass legislative package, such as a Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations measure or COVID relief package, during the post-election legislative session.
On October 23, underscoring the importance and urgency of extending statutory reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting data, The Census Project and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights led 370 national, state and local groups in calling for Congress to cosponsor or support the bill.
Measuring the Quality of the 2020 Census
A new task force report from the American Statistical Association (ASA) states that, with “the importance of the many ways in which census data are used, the American public needs to know whether census information presents an accurate picture of our nation’s population.” Since the Census Bureau’s current plans for quality assessment are “unknown,” and “the 99 percent completion rate by state publicly released to date is insufficient to measure quality,” the ASA “2020 Census Quality Indicators” report recommends detailed indicators to measures of quality, accuracy, and coverage of the 2020 Census.
SCOTUS to Hear Arguments on Administration Memo to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants from Apportionment Count
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on November 30 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.
The next Census Scientific Advisory Committee meeting
With 2020 Census counting operations now shut down and controversy continuing over a severely shortened data analysis and processing stage, the 2020 Census will likely be on the menu for the upcoming November 12th meeting of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee, but the Bureau is already in the planning stage for the 2030 Census.
Census Bureau News

On October 2, the Bureau sent a message to census takers: “As a result of court orders, the October 5, 2020 target date is not operative, and data collection operations will continue through October 31, 2020. Employees should continue to work diligently and enumerate as many people as possible. Contact your supervisor with any questions.”
The Bureau said that over 99% of housing units had been accounted for by October 2 in the 2020 Census as of today, with 32.5% counted by census takers and other field data collection operations, and 66.6% of housing units responding online, by phone or by mail.
As of Oct. 5, 2020, the Bureau said, 99.7% percent of housing units have been accounted for so far in the 2020 Census through either self-response or Nonresponse Followup. Final numbers indicate that in 2010 a little over 99.6 percent of households were counted this way.
The Census Bureau said that, as of Oct. 12, 2020, 99.9% of housing units have been accounted for so far in the 2020 Census, with 33.1% counted by census takers and other field data collection operations, and 66.8% of housing units responding online, by phone or by mail.
On October 13, the Bureau announced that self-response and field data collection operations for the 2020 Census would conclude on October 15, 2020.
As a reminder, the Bureau announced that people who have already responded to the 2020 Census may get multiple visits or phone calls from U.S. Census Bureau employees to verify that they responded, or to check addresses and other information.
The Bureau announced on October 19 it had accounted for 99.98% of all housing units and addresses nationwide in the 2020 Census as of the end of self-response and field data collection operations.
The Census Bureau hosted an audio news conference and Q&A to share updates on 2020 Census operations and next steps on October 20.
The U.S. Census Bureau released a supplemental unit and public-use file from for the 2019 Annual Survey of Public Pensions (ASPP).
The U.S. Census Bureau celebrated the third observance of World Statistics Day on October 20 as part of a global collective effort to recognize the importance of statistical data sharing.
The Census Bureau celebrated the importance of the manufacturing sector to the nation’s economy during the ninth annual observance of Manufacturing Day on October 1.
Census Bureau Data Releases
The U.S. Census Bureau released a series of technical notes on Select Topics in International Censuses. Each note highlights a new subject, method or operation relevant to census planners in middle- to low-income countries. A new technical note is now available on Disclosure Avoidance and the Census.
The Bureau released the total number of 2020 Census paid temporary workers that earned any pay Oct. 11 – Oct. 17, 2020, Oct. 4 – Oct. 10, 2020, Sept. 27 – Oct. 3, and Sept. 20 – Sept. 26.
New data was released from the second phase of the experimental Household Pulse Survey on October 21 and October 7.
The U.S. Census Bureau released new data from the second phase of the experimental Small Business Pulse Survey on October 15, October 8, and October 1.
The Bureau released the report “School Enrollment in the United States: 2018” that examines the characteristics of people enrolled in school at all levels using statistics from the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey.
The U.S. Census Bureau updated the Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO) statistics with the release of earnings tabulations for four more higher education systems: the City University of New York (CUNY), the State University of New York (SUNY), Pennsylvania State University, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The addition of these new higher education systems increases the number of institutions represented in the PSEO from 47 to 243.
The Bureau released a summary report on October 1 for the most recent 2018 Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances. The report details revenues, expenditures, debt, and cash and security holdings by level of government – including by state, local, and state and local figures combined.
News You Can Use

Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in October. For a complete listing, go to: https://thecensusproject.org/recent-media/.
Why Native Americans Don’t Share the Government’s Optimism About the Census
U.S. News & World Report
October 30, 2020
Lawsuit claims census supervisors pressured workers to falsify data
The Hill
October 28, 2020
Few Texas counties, cities matched 2010 self-response rates
The Monitor
October 26, 2020
Mayors plan multifront attack on census shutdown
October 22, 2020
Census Pulls Back on Year-End Delivery Commitment, Pushes Decision to Career Staff
Government Executive
October 21, 2020
EXCLUSIVE: Ross Commits To Protocols That Make It Harder For Trump To Mess With Census
Talking Points Memo
October 16, 2020
Congress must act soon to extend census count. Faulty data will harm the South
The Tennessean
October 15, 2020
Supreme Court grants administration’s request to discontinue census count
October 13, 2020
The Judiciary Grabs the Census
The Wall Street Journal
October 8, 2020
Census workers thought it would be a fun job; it wasn’t
Associated Press
October 3, 2020