The 2020 Census is under threat.
Act now to demand enough time to count everyone for the 2020 Census.
In April, Census Bureau Director Dillingham and Commerce Secretary Ross requested an extension to the legal deadline for delivering 2020 Census data as a result of COVID-related disruptions to data collection and non-response follow up (NRFU). The Director of the Census Bureau abruptly changed course last week, announcing plans to end field operations by September 30, one month ahead of the revised COVID-19 schedule. The NRFU stage of field operations is vital for enumerating the hardest-to-count populations (including children under the age of 5, persons of color, individuals in rural areas, people earning low incomes) and for ensuring the 2020 Census is counting everyone.
Congress is considering legislation that allows for the extended timeline as part of the COVID relief package. The extension is necessary for enumerating all of America and for the critical review and processing activities that need to happen before the data can be delivered.
- Contact your Senators today! If you can only do one thing - contacting your Senators is the most important thing you can do. Demand they approve the provisions the House passed to extend the 2020 Census reporting deadlines. Email or call with your demands or use the contact form from the Population Association of America to send their letter immediately.
- Contact your Representative. We also encourage you to contact your Representative. Make it clear they need to insist the extension of the 2020 Census timeline is a non-negotiable part of the upcoming COVID-19 recovery bill.
- Follow and participate in the conversation on Twitter. Tell us about your research that focuses on hard-to-count populations or is only possible when the census is fair, complete, and accurate using the hashtag #CountingEveryone.
National Statistical Infrastructure
Cutting the timeline for 2020 Census data collection risks a severe undercount of the U.S. population. If the decennial census is not inclusive, comprehensive, and accurate, there are immediate and long-lived consequences.
Decennial census data are used for benchmarking other federal surveys and data sets. The following surveys rely on the census as part of their sampling frame, for post-stratification adjustments, or both:
- American Community Survey
- Current Population Survey
- American Time Use Survey
- National Health Interview Survey
- Medical Expenditure Panel Survey
- Survey of Income and Program Participation
- National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey
- Population Estimates Program
- Many others
An undercount, particularly one that is not systematic and undercounts certain demographic groups at higher rates, strips people of representation in Congress. The Secretary of Commerce (the department that houses the Census Bureau) is required to provide decennial population counts. Census data are integral to:
- Apportionment, which determines how many congressional seats each state will have for the following ten years.
- Redistricting, enabling states to design equitable legislative and congressional districts.
- Enforcing Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits denying or abridging the right of any U.S. citizen to vote on the basis of race.
Allocation of Federal Funding
Finally, the constitutionally-mandated head count is used to distribute federal funding to states and other localities, and help these communities plan for their future and respond to crises. Examples of how communities benefit from accurate census data include:
- Department of Health and Human Services funding for the Medical Assistance Program, Medicare Part B, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Head Start
- United States Department of Agriculture funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, National School Lunch Program, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
- Local decisions about investing in infrastructure that will serve their demographic needs (e.g., highway maintenance, building new schools, expanding congregant care facilities)
- State impact planning reports and dashboards that identify at-risk populations and contextual factors regarding COVID-19 or other emergent issues
- For rapid updates, we recommend National Public Radio’s (NPR) Hansi Lo Wang's Twitter feed
- From NPR Census Cuts All Counting Efforts Short By A Month
- From NPR: Census Door Knocking Cut A Month Short Amid Pressure to Finish Count
- From the New York Times: New Census Worry: A Rushed Count Could Mean A Botched One
Statements from professional organizations
- American Statistical Association
- Population Association of America & Association of Population Centers
- American Association for Public Opinion Research
- The Census Project
- Hard to Count 2020 is an interactive mapping resource that allows you to explore 2020 Census response rates and compare them to 2010 rates.
- Social Explorer’s interactive map provides estimates of the 2020 undercount by county and census tract.
- Senate contact information
- House of Representatives contact information