US Census undercounted minorities in 2020, new data shows | Demographic News
The undercount could affect federal funding, political representation of blacks, Latinos and other minority communities in the country.
Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans were undercounted in the 2020 U.S. National Census, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, potentially affecting political representation and federal funding for communities with large minority populations.
The once-a-decade nationwide population count is used to draw U.S. legislative maps in each of the 50 U.S. states, as well as helping distribute billions in federal funds for everything from public housing to health care. and the construction of highways.
For decades, the census overcounted white people while undercounting people of color, but those trends accelerated in the 2020 census, according to Census Bureau statistical analyzes designed to test the accuracy of census results.
The Latino population count was likely 5% too low, more than three times the estimated undercount for the 2010 census, the bureau said Thursday.
More than 3% of blacks were not included, while Native Americans and Alaska Natives on reservations were undercounted by more than 5%, both worse than in 2010. Non-Hispanic whites and Asians were overrated, the bureau said.
The results likely indicate that the US population has become even more ethnically and urbanly diverse than the official 2020 results showed, and that the white majority has shrunk. Census results released last year showed an increasingly diverse nation, with the non-Hispanic white population shrinking for the first time in history.
The 2020 census faced several challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the office to temporarily suspend door-to-door operations and may have made some households more reluctant to speak to enumerators.
Despite a well-funded campaign, Native Americans expected the people living on approximately 300 reservations across the United States to be underappreciated again.
“At the end of the day, when you have your whole religious calendar that’s been interrupted, when you’re watching ‘How can I bear this huge health risk in my community’, it really wasn’t at the forefront of the everyone’s mind,” said Ahtza Chavez, executive director of the NAVA Education Project, which led the New Mexico Native Census Coalition.
Demography experts said an ultimately unsuccessful effort by former President Donald Trump to ask census respondents if they were US citizens may have deterred Latino populations from responding.
“The 2020 census continued to undercount some racial and ethnic groups while overcounting others,” Timothy Kennel, deputy division chief for statistical methods, told reporters at a virtual news conference. “Even with the limitations, the 2020 census data is suitable for many uses and decision-making.”
Prior to the census, civil rights groups warned that marginalized communities across the United States risked losing access to services if they were not counted accurately.
They had accused the Trump administration of seeking to politicize the process and limit minority participation for political purposes.
The political balance between states in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives shifted after the 2020 census, allowing Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon and Montana gain seats thanks to population growth, while California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan and West Virginia lost seats.
The data released Thursday included only national estimates. A more detailed state-level analysis is expected in a few months.