CMAP is working with partners and elected officials to re-extend the census completion date. Last week, CMAP sent a letter to the northeastern Illinois congressional delegation regarding the Census Bureau’s decision to shorten the outreach deadline and its impact on the region. CMAP also signed a letter sent to congressional leadership this week by the National Association of Regional Councils, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and National Association of Development Organizations. The letter calls for additional data collection time, raises concerns about the use of differential privacy (which may undermine resource distribution in high population areas), and urges an accurate count in communities with colleges and universities while students are unable to live on campus.
As shown by the work in Aurora, in Elgin, and through local Complete Count Committees, local leaders can play a key role in supporting increased participation. The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus has resources and updates to share with local governments and can connect municipalities to nonprofits for more direct engagement with residents. Contact LaTiyfa Fields at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Between now and September 30, CMAP urges local leaders and our partner organizations to highlight with their networks the costly impact of an undercount, particularly for Black and Hispanic communities. Here’s a social media toolkit to help get the word out about filling out the census.
How ready is your community or county to help improve the census count?
How are you engaging with Black and Hispanic residents? What strategies have you developed to encourage more residents of color to fill out the census?
Who are the trusted voices you can use to reach undercounted residents, explain to them why the census is important, and answer questions?
What community benefits would be jeopardized if you had fewer funding and resources over the next 10 years? Make this part of the story as you talk about the importance of a complete census count.
About the data
The U.S. Census Bureau releases self-response data through its publicly accessible data portal. For the 2020 census, this includes households that have responded to the Census Bureau’s invitation to complete the census, both over the internet and by mail. The Census Bureau releases the share of households that have responded as the “self-response” rate and continues to update the data throughout the census period. This data does not include any responses gathered by Census Bureau’ enumerators: the staff who visit households that have not yet responded online or by mail.
CMAP analyzed tract-level, self-response data for both the 2010 and 2020 census. Longitudinal comparisons leveraged 2006-2010 5-year ACS data to establish the racial composition of each tract in 2010 and the 2014-2018 ACS data (the most recent available at the tract level) to establish the racial composition of each tract in 2020. Average response rates by group were determined by performing a weighted average of response rates on the relevant tracts, weighted by the number of housing units in a given tract. Because these demographic data are associated with 2010 tract definitions, they were interpolated into the planned 2020 tracts using a correspondence file provided by the Census Bureau. Averages based on tract-level data are similar but not identical to averages obtained using higher-level geographies (such as counties), which may be due to discrepancies introduced when relating data between 2010 and 2020 tract geographies. For reference, average responses for the region using county-level figures were 69.8 percent in 2010 and 68.9 percent as of August 19, 2020.
To work with this data, CMAP used APIs to directly download tract-level demographics and then used R, a free open source statistical package, to analyze the data. The R script used to perform this analysis is available on CMAP’s Github page. Partners are encouraged to use and build on this analysis.