Accurate U.S. Census Data Is Critical For Funding Millions In Texas
With the recent announcement of a significant undercount in Texas by the U.S. Census, communities and cities may decide to request a review to ensure accurate funding.
What to know:
- In 2020, the census reported Texas’ population was at 29,145,505, which was a 16 percent jump up from 25,145,561 in 2010.
- However, a new census report shows the Texas population may have been undercounted anywhere from 166,129 to 953,059 people, which could cost the state millions of dollars in future federal funding.
- States and municipalities have until next year to request a review of the results of the census with the bureau through a process called the Census Count Question Resolution Operation (CQR).
- While the CQR process can correct some errors related to boundaries and geographical inaccuracies related to housing locations, unfortunately, we will have to set our sights on planning for a more accurate count in 2030.
Even though Texas’ official population gained the most residents of any state in the last decade, the Census’ Post Enumeration Survey found that it’s likely that in the 2020 census, the state’s population was undercounted by roughly 2%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s announcement last month.
THE BIG PICTURE: This means for the next decade, the undercount could affect the distribution of millions of dollars in funding and services, which affect Texans’ daily lives.
What’s also concerning is that some populations in Texans were disproportionately undercounted and the undercount will in-turn affect some disproportionately as well.
What does the undercount look like?
Demonstrating the bureau’s commitment to robust analysis and transparency, it produces the Census’ Post Enumeration Survey after every Decennial Census, which is an internal quality check. This report produced statistical estimates indicating the Texas undercount could have been as large as 3.27% or as small as .57%.
In real numbers, the undercount could be anywhere from 166,129 people to 953,059 people.
In 2017, The Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) published a map that identified a geographic representation of historically hard-to-count populations and household characteristics that raise the risk of being missed based on response trends from previous Census counts. These data could have informed a strategy to boost response rates had the appropriate complete count effort been mobilized for the state.
The importance of accurate data
Nationally, communities of color were significantly undercounted at a rate higher than White (or Anglo) populations. The census reports Black residents were undercounted at a rate of 3.3%, Native Americans at a rate of 5.64%, and Hispanic residents at a rate of 4.99%, which is more than triple the undercount from the 2010 census.
About 39% of Texas’ population is Hispanic, 13% is Black, 5% is Asian, and about 1% is American Indian or Alaska Native, according to the map above which is based on 2014-2018 estimates that are allocated to 2020 tracts.
Nationally, children under the age of 5 were also largely undercounted in the 2020 Census. About 7% of Texas’ population are children under the age of 5.
These populations have historically been or are at risk of being missed in the census at disproportionately high rates. To see a breakdown by county of populations at risk, check the map above.
Who else was affected? In addition to Texas, Illinois, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas were also affected by a significant undercount. Conversely, Hawaii, Delaware, Rhode Island, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio and Utah all had significant overcounts.
How Texas’ access to federal funding can be affected
With the undercount being baked into the data, governments and industry must use inaccurate estimates to plan and provide for communities. This means the undercount could affect where grocery stores are built, how many dollars are needed to adequately fund early childhood programs, where roads are built and or repaired, and whether schools will be large enough to serve local communities.
Nationwide, Census data are used to inform decisions on how to distribute $675 billion in federal resources each year, and additionally, political power is apportioned in congress and state legislatures based on Census data. In 2016, Texas received $59.4 billion in federal funding derived from Census data.
How can Texas address the undercount issue
Texas and its municipalities have until next year to request a review of the results of the census with the bureau through the CQR process. But while the CQR process can correct some errors related to boundaries and geographical inaccuracies related to housing locations, unfortunately, we will have to set our sights on planning for a more accurate count in 2030.
The Texas Demographic Center can be of assistance with any tribal, state, or local governments who want to request that the Census review their official 2020 Census Counts.