Research on How to Reduce the Undercount of Young Kids in the 2020 Census

“At least 4 million U.S. children under age 5 live in neighborhoods with a very high risk of undercounting young children in the 2020 Census.” That’s the warning from a recent Population Reference Bureau (PRB) study with researcher Bill O’Hare, which identified predictive factors for where they’re “most likely to be missed” and new risk measurement.

The study suggested that the current primary measures “to identify areas where young children are more likely to be missed—the 2010 Census mail return rate and the Low Response Score (also based on mail return rates)—are not very good predictors of net undercount rates for young children in large counties. Using updated census data for the 689 counties, the new study points to data on family structure and living arrangements, recent immigration, and socioeconomic status as better predictors of the risk for child undercount.”

PRB hopes to “improve targeting of communities with the highest risk of undercounting young children.”

"At least 4 million U.S. children under age 5 live in neighborhoods with a very high risk of undercounting young children in the 2020 Census.” That’s the warning from a recent Population Reference Bureau (PRB) study with researcher Bill O’Hare, which identified predictive factors for where they're "most likely to be missed" and new risk … Continue reading Research on How to Reduce the Undercount of Young Kids in the 2020 Census

The Census Project’s Summary: Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Release

The Trump Administration released initial details of its proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget on February 10, 2020. Given that FY 2021 is the first year in the 2030 Census planning cycle, stakeholders were prepared for a dramatic decrease in proposed overall Census Bureau spending as compared to FY 2020. However, robust FY 2021 funding for the Census Bureau is necessary to support the agency’s overall operations as well as to ensure a successful conclusion of the 2020 Census. Below is a table from the Administration’s budget comparing the Census Bureau’s FY 2021 topline spending figures with FY 2019 and FY 2020 actual funding levels.

 FY 2019 actualFY 2020 actualFY 2021 Request
Census Bureau Total$3,836.6$7,574.8$1,599.8
Salaries and Expenses$288.8$294.0$299.3
Periodic Censuses$3,547.8$7,280.8$1,300.5

The FY 2021 Department of Commerce Congressional Justification includes additional details about the Census Bureau’s spending and operational priorities.. These include:

  • Releasing apportionment and redistricting data;
  • Conducting coverage and quality operations, including the post-enumeration survey;
  • Closing Census 2020 field operations and decommissioning related equipment and devices;
  • Launching the Frames initiative, which will integrate data on persons, places, and the economy for use in all Census Bureau surveys, censuses, and official products;
  • Conducting research on financially sustainable collection methods or alternative sources of comparable data on the economic well-being of Americans and program participation;
  • Establishing an enterprise-wide capability to expand the use of administrative records to improve sample survey operations, data quality, and data products and continuing support for the Administrative Records Clearinghouse;
  • Finalizing data releases from the 2017 Economic Census; and,
  • Developing and implementing tools and software as part of the agency’s avoidance disclosure activities.

It is worth noting that the FY 2021 proposed budget reflects a similar funding level as compared to FY 2011. Further, the FY 2021 drop off is roughly consistent with longstanding projections in the Obama Administration’s outyear budget tables.

The President’s Budget does not fully address the disposition of prior year carry-over funds, the Secretary’s contingency fund, or other offsets, so the total funding available to the Census Bureau in FY 2021 will be clarified during future congressional appropriations hearings and when the Census Bureau provides greater details. However, tables released with the budget also raise possible concerns about 2020 Census spending levels in 2019 and 2020.  The figures indicate that actual spending on the 2020 Census (in 2019) fell short of the life-cycle cost estimates issued by the Census Bureau in June 2019, as does the Administration’s projection of 2020 Census spending this year.

The Census Project leadership has already requested a formal budget briefing of the Census Bureau to walk stakeholders through the FY 2021 request and answer questions. Stay tuned for more details!

The Trump Administration released initial details of its proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget on February 10, 2020. Given that FY 2021 is the first year in the 2030 Census planning cycle, stakeholders were prepared for a dramatic decrease in proposed overall Census Bureau spending as compared to FY 2020. However, robust FY 2021 funding for … Continue reading The Census Project’s Summary: Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Release

Census Bureau Director to Testify at House Hearing February 12th

The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced it will hold a hearing with Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham on February 12, 2020. With the clock ticking down on the decennial headcount, it will be a good opportunity for Members of Congress to probe into last minute preparations for getting out the count across the country, early feedback on how the count is going in Alaska, any upcoming changes necessary to the media campaign, and further details on how the Bureau will roll out mobile questionnaire assistance centers, among various issues.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced it will hold a hearing with Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham on February 12, 2020. With the clock ticking down on the decennial headcount, it will be a good opportunity for Members of Congress to probe into last minute preparations for getting out the count across the country, … Continue reading Census Bureau Director to Testify at House Hearing February 12th

New Fact Sheets from Stakeholders on 2020 Census

The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI) and National Women’s Law Center released a fact sheet on “Why the Census Matters for Women & Girls”, highlighting barriers to fairly and accurately counting women and girls in the decennial census and programs that could be impacted by an inaccurate count.

GCPI also released a series of fact sheets on the 2020 Census’ Group Quarters Operation to count people in “group living arrangements.” They focus on military personnel, prisoners, and people living in crisis and interim housing, colleges and universities, and medical facilities.

Finally, GCPI and the National Disability Rights Network recently put out a Frequently Asked Questions brief for disabled people on how the 2020 Census will be accessible.

The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI) and National Women’s Law Center released a fact sheet on “Why the Census Matters for Women & Girls”, highlighting barriers to fairly and accurately counting women and girls in the decennial census and programs that could be impacted by an inaccurate count. GCPI also released a series … Continue reading New Fact Sheets from Stakeholders on 2020 Census

Presentation of Article 1’s 2020 Census Messaging Strategy

The Census Project hosted a briefing with Article 1 last week to present the results of their messaging research on the 2020 Census. The 20+ participants discussed the best approaches to encourage response, and now other stakeholders can take a similar deep dive.

From 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15, the Census Project and Article 1 will be hosting a special webinar on the results of national audience research, convened by Article 1 – a nonprofit formed in 2018 and led by national census leaders, including former Census Bureau Directors. Article 1 was organized solely to share independent, non-partisan research and findings with the goal of strengthening national messaging efforts about the 2020 Census.

Steve Jost, Senior Vice President, Subject Matter, will present the results of Article 1’s key findings. We invite you to learn more about these findings and how they can help your organizations hone targeted, effective messages regarding participation in the 2020 Census.

Please RSVP by COB Tuesday, January 14 at the following link.

The Census Project hosted a briefing with Article 1 last week to present the results of their messaging research on the 2020 Census. The 20+ participants discussed the best approaches to encourage response, and now other stakeholders can take a similar deep dive. From 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 15, the Census Project and … Continue reading Presentation of Article 1’s 2020 Census Messaging Strategy

Many States Use Decennial Census Data to Distribute State Money

By William P. O’Hare, President, O’Hare Data and Demographic Services LLC

In the past few years, a lot of valuable information has been generated regarding how Decennial Census data are used to distribute federal funding to states and localities, usually from Professor Andrew Reamer’s Counting for Dollars project at George Washington University, whose most recent analysis indicates more than $1.5 trillion was distributed in Fiscal Year 2017 based on Census data.

However, while we have pretty good evidence about the use of Census data for distributing federal funds, much less is known about how much state money is distributed based on Census data. This includes state-generated estimates and projections that are based on the decennial Census counts. This paper provides some evidence on that issue by documenting the use of census-derived data distribution of state money in five states.

At a recent Committee on National Statistics workshop, Nicholas Nagle (2019), a Professor at the University of Tennessee, reported that in Tennessee, the money raised by state sales taxes is redistributed to localities based on total population counts.  Currently, this amounts to about $115 per person per year.

The North Carolina State Demographer, Michael Cline, says that state provides at least $205 per person per year based on census-derived data including population estimates (see slide 28 in this PowerPoint presentation). The $205 per person per year is based on just two programs and Cline is certain there are other programs that use census-derived data to distribute state money.

In the State of Washington, Mike Mohrman found that the state annually allocates about $200 million in shared state revenues to cities and counties on a per capita basis. These allotments are based on census counts when they are available and on county and city population estimates produced by the Office of Financial Management for non-census years. Current per capita allotments are estimated by Washington’s Municipal Research Services Center and can be found in their “2020 Budget Suggestions” publication. Washington also distributes some other monies to legislatively-mandated districts using funding formulas which include population as part of the formula. These populations are estimated by the Office of Financial Management and can be found on the ‘Special Area’ page of their website. Washington uses population estimates for program management for several other non-statutory districts as well. These estimates are based on census block data for census years and Office of Financial Management’s Small Area Estimate Program data for non-census years. The small area estimation methodology is described in the Small Area Estimates Program user guide. For more information on this situation, go to these websites: http://mrsc.org/Home.aspxhttp://mrsc.org/Home/Stay-Informed/MRSC-Insight/July-2019/2020-Budget-Suggestions-is-Here.aspx;   https://ofm.wa.gov/washington-data-research/population-demographics/population-estimates/april-1-official-population-estimates

Jan Vink from Cornell University in New York says some New York counties use census data to re-distribute sales tax revenue to subcounty units. For more information on this, see Appendix A in this paper which describes how county sales tax is divided among localities.

In his presentation at a recent Committee on National Statistics workshop, Jeff Hardcastle (2019) noted that $79 million was distributed in Fiscal Year 2019 among 82 Nevada government units based on population estimates.

The point is that many states use Census data to distribute state money to localities. For many people, the connection between census counts and government funding is a strong incentive to make sure everyone in their community is counted in the Census. When respondents learn that communities do not get their fair share of government money when people are missed in the Census, it is a powerful motivation to make sure everyone in their community gets counted in the Census. The fact that many states use census data to distribute state money makes the accuracy of the Census count even more important.

The data shown here is based on a small haphazard sample, but it suggests a more systematic and thorough investigation of how census data are used to distribute state money is warranted. Nationwide, hundreds of millions of dollars in state financial aid is distributed based on census-derived data. If readers know of additional situations where state money is distributed based on census-derived data, please send the information to me at billohare1@gmail.com. I would like to produce a more comprehensive study on this topic in the future.

References

 

By William P. O’Hare, President, O’Hare Data and Demographic Services LLC In the past few years, a lot of valuable information has been generated regarding how Decennial Census data are used to distribute federal funding to states and localities, usually from Professor Andrew Reamer’s Counting for Dollars project at George Washington University, whose most recent … Continue reading Many States Use Decennial Census Data to Distribute State Money

House Committee Concerned about Getting Out the Count for Hard-To-Count American Populations and Areas

On January 9, 2020, at 10am, the House Oversight & Reform Committee will hold a hearing to “examine the Census Bureau’s strategies and plans for reaching hard-to-count communities in the 2020 Census.”

The witness list features a series of stakeholders: Vanita Gupta from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, John Yang from Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Arturo Vargas from NALEO Educational Fund, Kevin J. Allis from the National Congress of American Indians, and Marc Morial from the National Urban League.

As explained by the committee, they are “very concerned that minority and immigrant communities, as well as rural communities with limited Internet access, are at serious risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census, jeopardizing their accurate representation in Congress and access to federal funds.” Sadly, the Census Bureau appears to have “fallen behind its own targets for hiring census workers to reach hard-to-count communities and for hiring partnership specialists who serve as critical liaisons with these communities.”

The committee reminded the Bureau of the need to “work closely with local communities to ensure an accurate count,” and that will surely be a big focus of tomorrow’s hearing.

The hearing should be broadcast via the committee website, https://oversight.house.gov/ .

On January 9, 2020, at 10am, the House Oversight & Reform Committee will hold a hearing to “examine the Census Bureau’s strategies and plans for reaching hard-to-count communities in the 2020 Census.” The witness list features a series of stakeholders: Vanita Gupta from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, John Yang from Asian … Continue reading House Committee Concerned about Getting Out the Count for Hard-To-Count American Populations and Areas