Census Undercount Will Have Long-Lasting Repercussions

An undercount is likely this year, particularly in communities that are traditionally underrepresented. As a result, cities will not have access to crucial federal funds over the next decade.

2 minute read

August 30, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


2020 Census

U.S. Census Bureau / U.S. Census Bureau

The census deadline is approaching, and it could be devastating for cities across the country if people are not counted.

"What’s at stake is both political representation and a share of the trillions of federal dollars over the next decade that will be distributed based on population. An undercount in communities that have already been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus could exacerbate the very inequities the virus itself has exposed," report Nolan D. McCaskill, Alexander Nieves, and Michelle Bocanegra.

The pandemic, the economic downturn, and social unrest have made the situation extremely difficult for mayors, who now have a multitude of crises to contend with and less time to make sure the census is carried out properly. The difficulties have only been compounded by a shortened timeline and the Trump administration’s ongoing attack on immigrants.

"Advocacy groups focused on the census warn that historically undercounted communities — low-income, immigrant and rural communities, communities of color and American Indian and tribal communities — are poised for severe undercounts this year," say McCaskill, Nieves, and Bocanegra.

Cities and states had planned engagement and outreach efforts for years, but the pandemic has sidelined those initiatives. "Mayors, nonprofits and other census advocates have decried the Trump administration’s new deadline to complete census data collection. The timeline was extended to Oct. 31 due to the pandemic, but then pushed up to Sept. 30 earlier this month," they note.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 in Politico

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Delivery drone holding a brown paper wrapped box hoveringin air with city in background.

Utah Establishes Air Mobility Framework

The program outlines a statewide approach to delivery drones and other air transportation options.

30 minutes ago - PR Newswire

Amtrak train at Union Station with Chicago skyline in background.

St. Paul-to-Chicago Borealis Rail Line Launches

The Amtrak service, 12 years in the making, doubles the number of available trips on the corridor.

1 hour ago - Route Fifty

Three men riding recumbent bikes on paved greenway next to bayou with Houston skyline in background.

Houston Developers Question Mayor’s Stance on Pedestrian Projects

The new mayor’s reversal of road safety projects, some already underway or completed, is raising eyebrows among developers who say residents want walkable, mixed-use streets.

3 hours ago - Houston Chronicle

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.