The 2020 Census — a once-a-decade effort by the federal government to count every person in the U.S. — is still three years away, but recent developments at the Census Bureau have raised concerns about the accuracy of the upcoming count. The agency recently received $164 million less than what it requested from Congress in the 2017 fiscal year, despite a traditional jump in funding for critical preparation in the years leading up to the nationwide count. The Trump administration’s proposed 2018 budget doesn’t give it much more. And in May, Census Bureau Director John Thompson announced he would resign at the end of June, leaving a major gap in leadership at a critical time. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has put the 2020 Census on its “High Risk List,” as it did the 2000 and 2010 Census, and cited the Bureau’s failure to implement strategies and technologies to cut Census costs, which hit a record $12.3 billion in 2010. “Over the past 3 years, we have made 30 recommendations to help the Bureau design and implement a more cost-effective census for 2020,” the GAO observed; “however, only 6 of them had been fully implemented as of January 2017.”
… Not all demographic groups are equally likely to be counted in the Census, and for various reasons the South is particularly vulnerable to being undercounted.
For one, the region is home to large and growing numbers of African Americans and Hispanics, two groups that have historically been undercounted in the past. After the 2010 Census, the Bureau reportedthat it missed 2.1 percent of African Americans and 1.5 percent of Hispanics, a total of 1.5 million people nationwide. Such undercounting has important implications for the South*, which is home to 49 percent of African Americans and 35 percent of Hispanics in the country, according to a Facing South analysis of 2015 demographic data.
By comparison, the 2010 Census overcounted non-Hispanic whites by 0.84 percent.