Millions More Californians At Risk of Being Missed in 2020 Census According to New Study and Latest Data

For Release
Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017

LOS ANGELES–A newly released study by a census expert finds that California is especially at risk of an undercount of its population in 2020, with at least 25 percent of Californians, or 9.7 million residents, living in neighborhoods least likely to get fully counted because they reside in what the U.S. Census Bureau calls “Hard to Count” tracts. The new findings suggest California leaders will need to double down on previous efforts to promote public cooperation with the coming census count.

The report’s author, Dr. William O’Hare, is a former research fellow at the U.S. Census Bureau and longtime supervisor of the highly regarded KIDS COUNT program at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. His analysis of the latest census population projections shows that of the estimated 39 million California residents, “…a large and growing segment of the California population is a group that is among the most difficult to count in the Census,” based on historical patterns. Hispanics, Asians and immigrants make up a significantly larger share of the California population than the national average, and they are all historically undercounted. O’Hare’s research found for example that 210,000 children (age 0 -4) were undercounted in the 2010 Census, and that number was likely to grow in 2020 without special efforts.

“Most of the population growth in California over the past decade has been in hard-to-count areas of the state, mostly communities of color,” said Dr. John Dobard, Manager of Political Voice, Advancement Project California. “These same communities face the highest danger of an undercount in the 2020 Census and the denial of full political representation.”

“Unless we bring Latino youth out of the shadows and into the light in Census 2020, the Latino community will continue to have disproportionate access to fair political representation and critical public services,” stated Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund executive director. “We must make the investments necessary today to ensure a full and accurate count of Latino children tomorrow.”

O’Hare’s work was commissioned by the Census Project, a coalition of census stakeholders representing business, industry, civil rights, academia, and state and local government. The group 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 findings released by the Census Project coalition last week.

“No state has more at stake in this debate than California,” Phil Sparks of the Census Project said. “With as much at stake, these new findings of a greater risk of an undercount means the nation’s largest state is at significant risk of losing out on its fair share of federal funding for another decade,” Sparks added.

The O’Hare study can be found at:

The full study federal funding tied to Census counts can be found at:

The Leadership Conference Education Fund has provided an explainer note for the 50-state report above: