The 2020 Census may have significantly undercounted Black, Hispanic and Native American populations

The 2020 Census likely undercounted Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations according to the Census Bureau’s Post-Enumeration Survey (PES).

In addition, two independent studies also concluded minorities were undercounted.

The PES data was fully released on March 10th, 2022 but the DAE has only released data relating to the total population so far. The PES reported that:

  • “The Black or African American alone or in combination population had a statistically significant undercount of 3.30%. This is not statistically different from the 2.06% undercount in 2010.”
  • “The Hispanic or Latino population had a statistically significant undercount rate of 4.99%.”
  • “American Indian or Alaska Native alone or in combination populations living on reservations show a statistically significant undercount rate of 5.64%.
  • “The American Indian or Alaska Native population alone or in combination living in American Indian areas, but not living on reservations, was not statistically different from zero.”
  • “The non-Hispanic White alone population had a statistically significant overcount rate of 1.64%.”
  • “The Asian alone or in combination population had an overcount rate of 2.62%.”
  • “The Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination population had an estimated overcount rate of 1.28%. This rate is not statistically different from zero.”

The field data collection of the 2020 Census was conducted from April 1st to Sept. 30th 2020. The data processing of the 2020 Census was conducted from Oct. 1st to Dec. 31st 2020. The PES and DAE were conducted starting in 2021.

In addition, the Urban Institute conducted a simulation of the 2020 Census that had multiple discrepancies with the official version but was somewhat aligned with Census Bureau’s PES. According to the simulation, the Black and Hispanic population had a net undercount of more than 2.45% and 2.17% percent respectively.

A separate study by Connie Citro, a senior scholar at the Committee on National Statistics at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, found that for people who identified themselves as Black and no other race, there was a net undercount ranging between 3.24% and 7.25%.

The USA’s decennial census is of great significance because it determines the apportionment of the House seats, the redistricting of state legislative districts, and the distribution of federal aid.

There are a variety of possible reasons for the undercounting of Black, Hispanic and Native Americans according to the Census Bureau’s PES and Urban Institute’s simulation.

The pandemic inhibited the efforts of the Census Bureau for a plethora of reasons. For example, fewer people responded to the Person Interviews since they wanted to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19 and lockdowns impeded the mobility of Census Reform personnel.

In addition, multiple cases have been reported that minorities were afraid to participate in the census due to their worries that the census lacked confidentiality. A specific issue of concern noted was the questionability of their and their loved one’s immigration status and what might happen to them if their status was revealed. 

Organizations like the National Urban League are concerned that the undercount of black Americans has increased from 2010. They have called for increased transparency on “what really happened during the Trump Administration’s all out efforts to stop the count of Black and Brown people in the 2020 Census.”

Chairman of the Democratic Redistricting Committee, Eric Holder, was quoted calling the Trump administration’s handling of the 2020 census “shameful” and that his attempt to limit the access of non-citizens to it may have caused the lower counts of Hispanics in the USA.

Fox News has also covered the newly released data that minorities were undercounted though they did not place any culpability on the Census Bureau or President Trump. Instead, they highlighted the enormous effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on the Census.




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