The census undercounted blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans in 2020
“Taking today’s results as a whole, we believe the 2020 census data is suitable for many uses in decision-making as well as for painting a vivid portrait of the people of our country,” said said Santos, who was nominated by President Joe Biden and confirmed after the 10-year count is complete. “We will further explore undercounts and overcounts. This is part of our due diligence, our pursuit of excellence and our service to the country.
The data released Thursday is the result of two analyses, both conducted by the Census Bureau, which collected data through a sample survey or demographic records. The results suggest that the 2020 census missed Hispanics and Latinos at a rate three times that of 2010 (an undercount rate of about 5%, compared to 1.5% in 2010).
The black or African American population was underestimated at a rate of 3.3%, compared to 2.1% in 2010. American Indian or Alaska Native populations living on reservations were underestimated at a rate 5.6%, higher than the rate of 4.9% in 2010. The Native American or Alaska Native population not living on reservations was not miscounted.
The Census Bureau noted that the difference in the 2020 Census undercount rate for the Black or African American population and the Native American or Alaska Native population living on reservations, compared to the 2010 Census, was not statistically significant.
The sample survey data also suggests that the non-Hispanic white population and the Asian population were overcounted, and the difference in overcount between 2010 and 2020 was statistically significant.
Fears of a significant undercount began to surface shortly after official data was released last spring, particularly among historically underrepresented groups. When Arizona — a state with a growing Hispanic and Latino population — failed to secure another congressional seat last April, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) told POLITICO there was “definitely an undercount” of underserved communities in the census.
The 2020 census found itself at the center of a political tussle, falling on an election year and amid the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Then-President Donald Trump pushed to add a citizenship question to the mandatory survey, forcing the Census Bureau to spend millions on advertising to fight it, even after Trump officially abandoned efforts to 2019. And the Trump administration slashed the data-collection window by a month, exacerbating the already frantic process of integrating an initial online survey with the in-person count.
Census data is used to redraw electoral districts, allocate congressional seats, and decide how many electoral college votes a state will receive for presidential elections. Some $1.5 trillion in federal funding is allocated each year in conjunction with censuses.