A UCLA report published today shows that the 2020 Census will severely undercount immigrants, low-income people and people of color.
Two key reasons are the COVID-19 pandemic and a directive issued July 21 by the Trump administration to cut population data collection operations short by one month; the Census Bureau must now end field data collection by Sept. 30.
To date, 93 million households, nearly 63% of all households in the U.S. have responded to the 2020 Census. In 2010, 74% of households in the United States filled out and mailed back their 2010 Census questionnaires, matching the final mail participation rate of the 2000 Census.
The White House directive and the public health crisis have made it an enormous challenge for the Census Bureau to ensure a complete and fair enumeration for the 2020 Census, according to the researchers. They write that racial and economic class biases threaten and undermine the goals of equal political representation and just allocation of resources.
The new analysis (PDF), by researchers from the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Ong & Associates, uses U.S. Census Bureau COVID Tracking Project data as of Aug. 1, and updates a previous UCLA report that analyzed self-response rates as of June 1.
The current report examines changes from 2010 to 2020, and the spread between tracts with high response rates and tracts with low response rates. While the overall response gap from 2010 to 2020 has closed to three to four percentage points as of Aug. 1, some communities have experienced more barriers to participating. Low-income and minority neighborhoods had lower response rates in 2010 than more advantaged neighborhoods, and that gap has only widened in 2020.