The country’s Latino population was underestimated in the 2020 census by more than three times that of the 2010 census, according to US Census Bureau estimates announced Thursday.
The black population as well as Native Americans living on reservations were also undercounted at higher levels in the 2020 census, while non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans were overcounted, according to comparative demographics. published in conjunction with a virtual Census Bureau presentation.
Thursday’s race estimates are based on the Census Post-Census Survey, a follow-up with some people used as a tool to measure who was missed during the census. Although overcounts and undercounts were reported for specific racial and ethnic groups, the country’s overall population estimate did not deviate significantly from the April 2020 count.
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The COVID-19 pandemic and related closures have had a major effect on census data collection.
“The Census Bureau has faced an unprecedented set of challenges over the past two years,” Director Robert L. Santos said during the presentation. “Many of you, myself included, have expressed concern. How could anyone not be concerned?”
The estimates will result in no change to the population count of 331.4 million in 2020, Census Bureau officials said. Santos said the overall population count was “robust and consistent with that of recent censuses.”
A nearly 5% undercount of Latinos was more than three times greater than the population undercount in 2010 (1.54%), marking by far the greatest differentiation for any racial or ethnic group since 2010.
In 2020, blacks were undercounted by about 3.3%, down from a 2.1% deficit in 2010, while Native Americans and Alaska Natives living on reservations recorded the undercount the highest of any race or ethnicity, 5.6%, up from 4.9% in 2010.
The estimated undercount of people who identified as “another race” rose dramatically to 4.3%, more than 2.5 times higher than the 2010 rate.
Non-Hispanic whites were overcounted by nearly double the 2010 ratio, 1.64% compared to 0.83%, while the Asian population, which experienced no estimated counting errors in 2010, was overcounted by 2.6% in 2020.
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The largest undercount was for children from birth to four years old, a group traditionally recorded at levels below the actual levels.
The net undercount of young children (5.4%) is the highest rate recorded since such tracking began in 1950, said demographer William P. O’Hare, consultant for Count All Kids, a campaign devoted complete count of children in the census. . One of the main reasons for the disparity is the mistaken belief of some people that young children are not supposed to be included in the count, he wrote in a Count All Kids report.
Similar to 2010, young black and Hispanic children had higher undercount rates than non-Hispanic white children and preliminary data from 2020 suggests the gap has widened, the report said.
Renters, who tend to move more often, were also underestimated in the 2020 census, while homeowners were overestimated. The pandemic likely caused more tenants to move out, census officials said.
In total, the post-censal survey estimated 18.8 million omissions, which are described as “people who should have been correctly counted in the census but were not”.
The 2020 census presented factors that raised concerns that the undercount of people of color could be even greater than usual. The COVID-19 pandemic, which essentially locked down the country just weeks before the April 1, 2020 census deadline, and Trump administration policies perceived as hostile to people of Latino descent and communities of immigrants, including a proposed census citizenship question that was ultimately scuttled and potentially hampered response rates, members of nongovernmental and voting rights groups said.
Santos, the director of the Census Bureau, said the influence of the pandemic “was quite profound.”
“We had families of all races and ethnicities, but mostly Latinos, who were really hurting during this time. They were out of work. There were housing stability issues, there were hunger issues, etc. And I think it plays a role in the ability to (participate),” he said.
Santos said discussion of a potential citizenship question, even though it was not added to the census, may have affected the participation of some people, as likely evidenced by the higher undercount of Latinos.
“The Census Bureau’s own research in terms of focus group research raised early concerns about the inclusion of a citizenship question. So, therefore, all the publicity surrounding efforts to place it on ( the census) may well have had an impact,” he said. “I’m personally not surprised at the results we’re seeing today.”
Arturo Vargas, CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Education Fund, harshly criticized the high undercount of the Latino population.
When the first census figures were released last year, “we smelled smoke. Estimates (from the post-census survey) released today confirm that this census was a five-alarm fire,” said he said in a statement. “There is no doubt that the political interference of the previous administration contributed to the undercount (and) created an environment that left Latinos and others fearful of responding to the census.”
National Urban League President Marc Morial, who spoke at a news conference immediately after the Census Bureau’s presentation, excoriated those responsible for the undercount, calling it “a tragedy and an act of near-maleficence and incompetence on the part of census leaders under the Trump administration.. These numbers are devastating.
Being underappreciated comes at a high cost, ranging from reduced political representation during federal, state and local redistricting, to the loss of billions of dollars in government funds distributed based on community population.
“The impact of this undercount on the ongoing redistribution process in many states is incalculable. The impact (this) will have on the distribution of formula funding by our national government and many states is potentially devastating because that these numbers are cooked for a 10-year period,” Morial said. “We certainly intend to bring our sense of outrage and disappointment to the highest levels of government, Congress and others, and we do not know today what options may be there to rectify this situation, but there should be an effort to rectify this. .”
In a statement, the National Congress of American Indians called the “persistent undercount (of American Indians and Alaska Natives) living on reservation lands…unacceptable,” adding that it had advised the Census Bureau for years about undercount factors related to pandemic shutdowns, lack of broadband on tribal lands and the negative effect of new privacy measures.
Figures from the 2020 census released in August showed whites remained the nation’s largest racial group, even though that population had shrunk 8.6% since 2010. In comparison, the number of Asian Americans has jumped about 36%, the Hispanic and Latino community jumped about 23%, and the black population grew about 6%.
Populations of non-white racial and ethnic groups have long been census undercounted for a variety of reasons, including distrust of government due to discriminatory treatment of people of color and a higher from renters, a group that tends to have lower response rates compared to owners.