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.

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

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