The US Census Bureau has announced it is to end its data collection for the 2020 Census a month early on September 30th, prompting a warning from four former bureau directors that this could mean hard-to-count communities being missed, and less accurate data being produced.
Federal law requires the Census Bureau to report data for apportionment by 31st December, but in April the Bureau had to suspend its in-person data collection efforts for several months due to Covid-19, and it therefore asked for an extension to 31st October for data collection and a corresponding four-month extension to the reporting deadline. Within the former, an operation to count those households that do not self-respond (non-response follow-ups - NRFUs) was due to take place from mid-May until the end of July, but had to be rescheduled to take place from mid-August until the end of October.
On Monday this week, however, the Bureau's Director Steven Dillingham announced that the field stage would finish a month early, by the end of September - and that the agency would hire more employees to accelerate the next stage and meet its statutory deadline of December 31st.
This has alarmed four former bureau chiefs: Vincent Barabba, Kenneth Prewitt, Robert Groves and John Thompson, who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents. The four have now issued a statement outlining the importance of extending the 2020 deadlines, in order to achieve a fair count, claiming that if the final reporting deadline is not extended to April 30th 2021, the result will be serious incomplete enumerations in many areas across the USA; and the Census Bureau will not be able to carry out the NRFU fully. 'The end result will be under-representation of those persons the NRFU was expected to reach, and, at even greater rates for traditionally hard-to-count populations, and over-representation of all other populations with potentially extreme differential undercounts'.
Following last year's unsuccessful attempt to add a citizenship question to the census, President Trump recently ordered the bureau not to count undocumented immigrants - a move already being challenged in the courts as being unconstitutional. Julie Menin, Census Director for NYC, described the latest decision to move the data collection date forward to September as 'nothing but a disgusting power grab, from an administration hell-bent on preserving its fleeting political powers at all costs'.
Web site: www.census.gov .
All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.