The once-in-a-decade US Census could feel very 2020 at this point. This is what happened in a year we all want to forget.
But last month, the Census Bureau released the best guesses about how accurate the number of all people living in the United States really was.
Good news? According to the census, a total of 331,449,281 cases are considered to be quite appropriate.
Bad news? The agency again underestimates certain demographic groups as about 3% of African Americans, 5% of Hispanic or Latino Americans, and 6% of Alaska Natives and Native Americans live on a reservation basis. I think I’m doing it.
“At best, the census was a’D-‘,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans. “And the reason it was’D-‘is that a significant underestimation of the black and brown communities should not be acceptable in modern democracy. ”
That underestimation affects political subdivision and the distribution of the federal dollar. It can also disrupt the local economy, a problem that Morial is directly aware of. While serving as Mayor of New Orleans in the 1990s and early 2000s, he sought to lure more grocery stores into parts of what is considered a food desert.
“If a grocery store chain looks at a neighborhood and says,’Well, I don’t know if there’s a good customer base,’ that’s a reduction in investment,” Morial said.
There are many reasons for underestimation. Renters are harder to count than homeowners, and African Americans are disproportionately renters. Well-founded distrust of the federal government, rooted in centuries of racism, is also a factor.
Not surprisingly, it was further underestimated in 2020, throwing pandemics, natural disasters, and interference from the Trump administration.
The problem is that the 2020 undercount isn’t just the 2020 issue.
“It’s a 10-year census and is the basis for all the statistics we track about, unemployment, poverty, employment, housing costs, etc.,” said Allison, chief demographer at a data center that collects and analyzes socio-economics. Pryor says. Data from southeastern Louisiana.
The Census Bureau publishes an American Community Survey every year. ACS is a more detailed dataset that affects how public funds of over $ 600 billion are distributed nationwide.
The agency is making tweaks to increase the credibility of the American Community Survey and to compensate for the underestimation every 10 years. However, Plyer wants to improve these estimates using local data such as utility records.
“This is what they have done historically. They did it in the 70’s and 80’s, but due to cost concerns, they narrowed it down,” she said.
African-American undercounts weren’t worse than in 2020, but Latino undercounts were worse. The Trump administration’s efforts to ask citizenship questions to the census did not help.
“People of color and minorities were particularly afraid to inform the government,” said C. LeRoy Cavazos-Reyna, Vice President of Government and International Affairs at the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. ..
Cavazos-Reyna said the good news is that the private sector has far more data than it did 20 years ago, especially as a consumer, to measure the Latin community.
But the bad news is that underestimation can still affect where potential employers decide to set up a store. Cavazos-Reyna is particularly concerned about undercounting cities on the US-Mexico border.
“Underestimating allowed many private companies to decide not to go to the community based on the availability of skilled workers there,” he said.
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