Impact of coronavirus pandemic on U.S. Census 2020

UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge was recently featured in a LA Times article discussing the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic for census workers in canvassing and reaching out to the most vulnerable communities. The article reveals that the pandemic is impacting everyone’s responses to the census and in particular those from affluent areas, not just hard-to-count neighborhoods. While California’s self-response rate is above the national average, the state ranks 22nd among all U.S. states in responding to the census.

Those figures belie another problem with census replies, said CNK director Paul Ong: the high chance of a “differential undercount,” in which one group is less likely to be included than another group.

“Historically, this has included low-income households, people of color, Indigenous individuals, and immigrants. There are enormous political and economic implications from a racially biased census count,” Ong said.

“Marginalized populations will be further disenfranchised and disproportionately left out for public funds and services.”

It’s “certainly true” that some wealthier areas are not responding at their typical rates, Ong said, adding that he doesn’t discount the issue. But to him, that’s not the biggest problem.

“If we have to put in more resources in the last few months of the count, that is not my priority. It’s more important to get the hard-to-count communities, because they are the ones on average really left behind.”

For more details, access the article here >>> Census workers are trying to reach more poor Californians and people of color. But the coronavirus could make the wealthy harder to find

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