Mar 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

2020 census undercounted Black, Latino, and Native Americans

Census
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The 2020 census featured large undercounts of America's Black, Latino, and Native American populations while overcounting non-Hispanic white Americans and Asian Americans, according to a new survey released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Why it matters: The U.S. census has a longstanding history of undercounting Black, Latino, and Native Americans, and the survey's results indicate that this trend is worsening.

Details: Latinos were omitted from the 2020 census at a rate more than three times higher than in the 2010 census, at nearly 5% vs 1.5%. 

  • Black people were undercounted at a rate of 3.3% in the 2020 census, compared to around 2.1% in 2010.
  • For Native Americans living on reservations, the 2020 census featured an undercount of 5.6% compared to 4.9% 10 years earlier.
  • People who identified as white but not Hispanic were overcounted at nearly double the 2010 rate, jumping from 0.8% to 1.6%.
  • Overall, the estimated number of "omissions" is 2.8 million higher than for the 2010 census.

The big picture: A total of 18.8 million people were omitted from the 2020 census, the survey stated. Being undercounted carries high costs, from reduced political representation during federal, state and local redistricting, to the loss of billions of dollars of government funds distributed based on community population.   

  • The Census Bureau said last year that the 2020 census was also beset by an unusually high rate of unanswered questions.
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