Census Bureau is working to improve personnel confidence in 2020

The Census Agency will fix the problems posed by the unprecedented challenge of implementing US personnel during pandemics, natural disasters, and the Trump administration’s efforts to politicize the process. We aim to increase confidence in the numbers collected during the survey.

Demographers, supporters, and others who rely on census data are watching carefully and like what they’ve seen so far, but how the fix is ​​implemented before making a decision. I want to monitor.

The Census Bureau announced last week that it would break past practices and not rely on 2020 census data only as a basis for producing annual estimates of the US population. Estimates will be used to distribute $ 1.5 trillion in federal funding each year and measure annual population change through 2030. Bureau statisticians have blended some of the 2020 census figures with various other datasets in the base, 2021 and perhaps 2022.


Census Bureau official Christine Hartley said statisticians wanted time to evaluate census data and make sure it could be used for estimation.

“There were also many questions about quality because of how the pandemic affected the census field work,” says Hartley. “We needed some kind of solution that wasn’t entirely dependent on the 2020 census data.”

The Census Bureau also proposed another amendment that would allow states, local governments, and tribal states to challenge the results of the number of people living in dormitories, prisons, nursing homes, and other collective settlements for the first time. .. Counting these locations became particularly difficult after a pandemic in the United States in March 2020, students returning home on campus, and prisons and nursing homes blocked against the coronavirus epidemic. ..


This one-off change will be approved by the Office of Management and Budget after the public comment period. It said it was the “2020 Census.”

Some experts said the fix could have failed the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfire, hurricane, and citizenship questions by the Trump administration, but still scared some people to join. there is.

The Census Bureau remains transparent about publishing quality measurements of the data collected in the face of unprecedented challenges, but “doing so always do what is best possible. We will reveal what is happening, “said Arturo Vargas, CEO of the NALEO Education Fund.


“‘Suitland is always sunny,’ but we need to admit that there are challenges we can’t overcome,” said Vargas, referring to the headquarters of the Statistics Bureau in Suitland, Maryland. rice field.

This change has almost always been well received by demographers and supporters. “We can improve accuracy, which is good for increasing confidence,” said Allison Plyer, chief demographer at the New Orleans data center.

Demographer William O’Hare, who advocates for children to be fully counted, says that the “mixed-based” approach improves children’s estimates by using highly accurate birth certificate data. I said. What happened earlier this year showed that the 2020 census had a 4.4% undercount for Hispanic children.

Concerns about underestimation among blacks, Hispanics, children, and tribal nations, according to some supporters, are heightened by the risk that these groups may be undervalued in the distribution of federal funds.


“The National Urban League has good reason to believe that blacks were undervalued during the 2020 census at a rate higher than the previous census,” said Mark Morial, president and CEO of the Civil Rights Group. Stated in the email. We are trying to be more transparent (and more needed), and we are talking about options and new data sources to deal with differential underestimations. “

The Bureau’s own view of the accuracy of the 2020 census is not officially known until next year when it publishes a report card on how good it has done. Earlier this year, the American Statistical Society’s Task Force found in its review irregularities that the results were not suitable for use in parliamentary seat allocation, or were of lower quality than those of 2010. Said it wasn’t.


However, according to an Urban Institute analysis, there are fewer people of color, renters, non-citizens, children, and people living in Texas, the fastest growing state in the United States, than some expected. It turns out that although it is a big difference, it is most likely to be overlooked. For counts made under such difficult circumstances.

There are some concerns about census data that are not corrected by the announced changes. For example, the Census Bureau’s new privacy technology that inserts inaccuracies at a very small geographic level to protect the confidentiality of participants, such as the only family in a particular family. Ethnic groups living in a specific area. Eric Guthrie, senior demographer at the Minnesota Census Center, has some small town officials who are concerned that the sparsely populated community is not accurately described.


As another effort to protect confidentiality, the Census Bureau is considering not including detailed data when releasing the next round of census numbers for 2020 next year. The data deals with the relationship between housing and families, and the agency states that it has put a lot of effort into creating accurate information while protecting the privacy of the country’s number of participants.

Guthrie recently told the National Academy Commission, which is investigating the data quality of the census, that there is a lot of skepticism among the small town officials he spoke to. He said many of them mobilized considerable resources to assist in counting and now feel betrayed that they are unable to obtain data available in the smallest areas.

“This is the one shot they get and they feel like they’ve been robbed of it,” Guthrie said. “There is no longer a foundation of trust.”



Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter. https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

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Census Bureau is working to improve personnel confidence in 2020

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