The U.S. has become more diverse and urbanized over the past decade. This was revealed by the Census Bureau Thursday, as it released demographic data that will be used in redrawing the country’s political maps.
These new figures offer the most comprehensive picture yet of the country’s changes since 2010. They are certain to spark a fierce partisan fight over representation in a time when there is deep national division and fighting over voting rights. These numbers could determine the House’s control in 2022 and give the House an electoral edge for many years. These data will also influence how $1.5 trillion of federal spending per year is distributed.
These figures indicate that there has been continued migration to the South, West and Northeast at the expense counties in the Midwest or Northeast. While whites are still the predominant racial/ethnic group, their share fell to 63.7% in 2010, to 57.8% by 2020. This is the lowest ever recorded. California saw a shift in California where Hispanics grew to 39.4%, from 37.6%, and whites dropped to 34.7%.
Nicholas Jones, a Census Bureau official, stated that the U.S. population is more multiracial than we had previously measured.
This data was compiled from forms that were filled out by tens to millions of Americans last year. Census takers and government statisticians helped fill in the gaps when forms weren’t turned in or questions weren’t answered. These numbers are a result of many decisions made by people over the past 10 year to have children, move across the country, or come to the U.S.A from another country.
This release gives states the opportunity to redraw their electoral districts. It is a difficult process, and one that could prove to be especially brutal for those who control Congress and the statehouses. This release also gives the first chance to examine, on a limited basis how the Census Bureau accomplished its goal of counting every U.S. citizen during the difficult once-a decade census.
Ron Jarmin, acting director of the Census Bureau, stated that “the data we are releasing today meets our high quality data standard.”
The headcount was hampered by political interference from Trump’s failed attempts to add citizenship questions to the census forms. This move, critics said, would chill immigrant and Hispanic participation. The Supreme Court stopped the effort.
The original deadline for the release of the information was March 31st. However, delays due to the coronavirus pandemic forced the delay.
The outbreak of the virus caused the Census Bureau’s delay in operations and to extend the schedule for the 2020 census. Census data are tied to where people are on April 1, 2020. This means that the numbers won’t reflect the nearly 620,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S.
In addition to the pandemic, census-takers in the West were subjected to wildfires and Louisianans faced multiple hurricanes. There were also court battles about the Trump administration’s attempt to close the count earlier. This repeatedly altered the plan for concluding field operations.
The Census Bureau released in April the state population figures from 2020, showing how many seats each state has in Congress.
Terry Ao Minnis is an official with Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “I believe we all know that everyone played a part in whether people participated or didn’t, whether it was fear about participating or confusion about “Who is at my house?” … Do I have to close my door because COVID is in effect? “Should I not open my doors because of the government?”
In past censuses, communities of color were undercounted. The Census Bureau will likely not be able to tell how well it did its job until next year when it releases a survey that shows undercounts as well as overcounts. However, Thursday’s release will allow researchers to conduct an initial quality control and could result in lawsuits alleging that the numbers were faulty. Although the Census Bureau offers a program to allow elected officials to challenge data, it doesn’t apply to redistricting or apportionment.
“This is our first chance to see if we can find any indications of an unprecedented undercount,” stated Thomas Saenz (president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, MALDEF). “There is always an undercount. We are concerned that this census won’t be any different. However, we want to ensure that it isn’t out of proportion with previous censuses.
The Census Bureau has a new privacy technique that makes it impossible to accurately calculate the numbers at the lowest geographic levels. This method introduces controlled errors to the data at smaller geographic levels such as blocks in a neighborhood in order for people to remain anonymous in this era of Big Data.
Jarmin warned that this process could produce strange results such as blocks with children living without adults or housing units that are not proportional to the number of people who live there.