Jan 20, 2020

The 2020 census begins tomorrow on the edge of America

Map: AP

The first Americans to be counted in the 2020 census, which begins tomorrow, live in Toksook Bay, Alaska — a community of 661 on the edge of the American expanse, AP reports.

Catch up quick: The decennial U.S. census has started in rural Alaska, out of tradition and necessity, ever since the U.S. purchased the territory from Russia in 1867.

  • Once the spring thaw hits, towns empty as residents scatter for traditional hunting and fishing grounds. The frozen ground that in January makes it easier to get around by March turns to marsh that's difficult to traverse.
  • Mail service is spotty and internet connectivity unreliable, which makes door-to-door surveying important.

What's next: The rest of the country, plus urban areas of Alaska such as Anchorage, will begin the census in mid-March.

Go deeper: Census data projects shift in states' congressional power

Go deeper

Experts raise concerns about new census tech in wake of Iowa

The Government Accountability Office, the Census Bureau's inspector general and some lawmakers doubt whether the U.S. census, which begins its every-10-year count next month, is ready for prime time, AP's Mike Schneider writes.

Why it matters: The Census Bureau plans to try out a lot of new technology, but some of it is not fully tested.

Partisanship is fueling urban-rural divisions

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll of 2,726 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 24–28 Margin of error ±2.5 percentage points; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

City dwellers and rural Americans share many of the same values, despite political and economic polarization that can push the two apart, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: Sizable minorities from both cities and rural areas said they're worried about how the other perceives them. And partisan politics explains a lot of those divisions.

Homelessness isn't just a big city problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Homelessness is on the rise in many of America's biggest and most expensive cities — but it's a growing problem in rural areas, too.

Why it matters: People experiencing homelessness are often harder to count in rural areas and they have a harder time accessing support programs in small towns with fewer resources.