California Stands to Lose the Most from Poor 2020 Census According to New Study

For Release
Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017

LOS ANGELES–The results of the 2020 Decennial Census are likely to help guide the allocation of more than $76.6 billion in federal spending for California each year, by far the largest single state share of almost $600 billion nationally, according to a new study led by Professor Andrew Reamer of George Washington University. The George Washington University project is called “Counting for Dollars.” The report contains a 50-state listing of funds directed annually to state and local governments by census data for health care, Head Start, roads and highway, school lunch programs, housing assistance, and a variety of other programs. A summary of the national findings calculated $589.7 billion in Census-directed funding from 16 federal programs.

On the eve of congressional actions to fully fund planning for the 2020 count, representatives of a coalition of census stakeholders representing business, industry, civil rights, academia, and state and local government called on Californians to demand the state is properly counted in 2020 by supporting full funding in the federal Fiscal 2018 funding. A poor count will put as much as $800 billion in federal support to California over the next decade at risk, according to the Census Project coalition’s review of the study.

“A successful Census 2020 requires a full count of the nation’s second largest population group,” stated Arturo Vargas, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund’s executive director. “The stakes are too high to fail. If we do not provide the Census Bureau with the funding it needs now, the Latino community in California and nationwide will continue to have disproportionate access to fair political representation and critical public services in the future.”

“California needs a fair and accurate count to ensure we receive the federal funds required to support programs in health, education, housing and transportation. All Californians stand to lose, but especially our most vulnerable residents, if we do not get this funding. An accurate census count is crucial,” said Dr. John Dobard, the manager of political voice at Advancement Project California.

Phil Sparks of the Census Project said California was at greater risk than any single state from a poorly planned census count since the state earns 13 percent of every federal dollar allocated based on the 2020 census, well over its 12 percent share of the national population. “No state has more at stake in this debate than California,” Sparks said.

While the study focused on 16 federal programs, just 5 accounted for 85 percent of federal funding to California; led by Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Medicare Part B, HUD Section 8 Housing Vouchers, and Department of Transportation Highway Planning & Construction Funds. “All Californians benefit from a high-quality, complete and fair census,” Sparks added.

“The fair and equitable distribution of federal financial assistance to state and local governments and households will depend on the accuracy of the 2020 Census,” said Professor Reamer, who conducted the study.

The full study can be found at:

Detailed findings on each of the 16 programs the group already researched can be found at the links below:

Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Medicare Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance) – Physicians Fee Schedule Services

Highway Planning and Construction

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies

National School Lunch Program

Special Education Grants (IDEA)

State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP)

Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments Program (Project-based)

Head Start/Early Head Start

Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Foster Care (Title IV-E)

Health Center Programs (Community, Migrant, Homeless, Public Housing)

Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)


PRESS NOTE: The Leadership Conference Education Fund produced a fact sheet on the uses of the data in the George Washington University report.