By CultureBanx Team
- 9% of Black people in the U.S. were missed in the last census
- In 2017, $1.5T of federal spending was allocated based on Census Bureau data
American’s response to the Census helps direct $675 billion in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, and other public services. Traditionally, it has been difficult getting Black and brown people counted in the Census due to a number of access-related issues. In the last census, 9% of Black people in the U.S. were missed, a rate that was higher than any other racial or ethnic group, and those missing data points mean missing dollars.
Why This Matters: While the world is counting on America to find a solution for the coronavirus, communities and organizations are depending on people to be counted in the Census for funding. In 2017 alone, $1.5 trillion of federal spending was allocated on the basis of Census Bureau data. There are two main ways a Census can be messed up, you can count some people twice, or you can not count some people at all, both of these things happened in 2010. Race historically plays a big role in government numbers regarding who gets counted twice and who gets left out altogether.
“The 2020 Census is on track to be the most egregious undercount of minorities in the history of the Census. Government has to make a compelling case to African Americans who are unfamiliar with the Census to participate—in an era of epic lack of public trust. That kind of education, awareness and trust should have begun with well funded multichannel engagement campaigns over a year ago, and it didn’t.
People of color are systematically undercounted and if we go back to the 1940 Census, it missed one in every 12 black residents, and the situation doesn’t seem like it’s going to improve. “The 2020 Census is on track to be the most egregious undercount of minorities in the history of the Census,” said Andrew McCaskill, SiriusXM, Culture + Economics contributor. In order to accurately count Black residents “the government has to make a compelling case to African Americans who are unfamiliar with the Census to participate—in an era of epic lack of public trust. That kind of education, awareness and trust should have begun with well funded multichannel engagement campaigns over a year ago, and it didn’t”, said McCaskill.
6% of African American children were missed in the 2010 census
The George Washington Institute of Public Policy explained it would be extremely difficult to calculate exactly how many federal dollars were lost to Black communities, because the allocation of funds is based on complex formulas. They suggested that even the hardest of calculations, which may include dividing all federal money per member of the population, puts the value of filling out a census form at over $4,000 per person.
The Census Bureau’s estimate of its own 2010 accuracy, released in 2012, found that slightly more than 2% of African-Americans were missed that year, including 6% of African American children. This percentage was double that of white children. On the other hand, the white non-Latino population was over counted by nearly 1%.
Situational Awareness: There are advocacy groups who have expressed extreme concern around funding issues for the Census. Specifically, the Census Project estimates that there’s a $2 billion shortfall of budget needed to complete an accurate decennial census. Also, the Urban Institute found that between 1.1 million and 1.7 million of Black residents will yet again be missed from the 2020 Census.
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