Census Bureau Director, 2008-2009
In April, The Census Project continued its efforts to promote the Census Bureau’s funding needs by releasing a letter signed by almost 80 national, state, and local organizations urging Congress to provide the Census Bureau with $2 billion in Fiscal Year 2024.
In March, President Biden submitted his proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget to Congress for its consideration, which included a recommended funding level of $1.606 billion for the Census Bureau — a $121 million increase over the agency’s FY 2023 level. In April, Congress responded by holding numerous hearings in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to examine the President’s request.
The House and Senate Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittees, which have jurisdiction over the Census Bureau, received testimony from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. While the Census Bureau did not figure prominently in the Secretary’s statements, during the House CJS subcommittee hearing, she fielded several questions and comments about the agency. Specifically, Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) asked about the impact of the Administration’s request on the Bureau’s research activities and development of the 2030 Census operational design. Representative Jake Ellzey (R-TX), a new member of the CJS subcommittee, commented on the perceptions of the 2020 Census undercount in certain regions of the country and how the agency is adapting in light of lessons learned from the last decennial. Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA), another new member of the House CJS subcommittee, expressed his concerns regarding the Bureau’s obligation to enumerate noncitizens and its potential impact on apportionment.
The Senate CJS subcommittee held its Department of Commerce hearing on April 26. Secretary Raimondo did not receive any census related questions or comments.
The next step in the annual appropriations process is for the House Appropriations Committee to draft or “mark up” all 12 annual funding bills and send them to the floor for consideration. On April 27, Representative Kay Granger (R-TX), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, announced her intention to mark up all 12 appropriations bills between mid-May and mid-June. If the House Appropriations Committee meets her target, the bills could be debated on the House floor later this summer. Her letter did not specify when the CJS bill will be scheduled for mark up. In addition, it is not clear if and when the Senate Appropriations Committee will consider their versions of the 12 annual appropriations bills.
Census Stakeholders React to Proposed Race and Ethnicity Data Collection Standards
Census stakeholders responded forcefully to a request for public comments from the Interagency Technical Working Group on Race and Ethnicity Standards regarding initial proposals for updating Federal race and ethnicity data collection standards. The Working Group will use the public’s comments, which were due April 27, to inform their ongoing deliberations to modernize the current standards, which have been in effect since 1997. In comments organized by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, 121 organizations expressed their views regarding proposals to create a combined race and ethnicity question as well as a Middle Eastern/North African minimum category. Other organizations that submitted comments included the Population Association of America/Association of Population Centers, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
Congressional Democrats Introduce Prison Gerrymandering Bill
On April 26, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo), and Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-OH), introduced a bill to end prison gerrymandering nationwide. The bill would direct the Census Bureau to count incarcerated people at their home addresses, rather than at their detention or correctional facilities. The Prison Policy Initiative published a blog that provides additional information about the bill.
Montana Codifies State’s Anti-Prison Gerrymandering Reforms
In April, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed into law a bill that makes that state’s anti-prison gerrymandering reforms permanent. The state’s independent redistricting commission had addressed prison gerrymandering when drawing its 2020 maps. The bill ensures this practice will prevail in the future. The Prison Policy Initiative published a blog regarding the bill’s enactment.
GAO Removes Decennial Census From High-Risk List
In an April 21 blog, The Census Project reported that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had removed the decennial census from its list of high-risk Federal programs. GAO found, “The Census Bureau slowed decades of cost growth while completing the 2020 Decennial Census during a pandemic. However, the continuing undercounts of segments of the population as reported by the Bureau signal that 2030 Census planning should be monitored for emerging risks.” The GAO indicated that it would monitor various risks in 2030 Census planning, including: “Budgetary uncertainty”; “Inadequate testing”; “Late IT decisions”; and “Declining participation.”
Census Stakeholders Raise Concerns Regarding Future of ACS Ancestry Question
In an April 7 letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce, a group of census stakeholders, led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, urged the Census Bureau “to pause its research into possible elimination of the ACS ancestry question.” The letter states that such an effort “is premature in the absence of any detailed race and ethnicity subgroup or national origin data from the 2020 Census as a point of comparison and in the midst of an in-depth review of OMB Statistical Policy Directive 15.” More information about the letter and this issue is available in a recent Census Project blog.
Brookings Issues Report on Challenges Regarding Native American Data Collection
In an April 12 blog, The Census Project highlighted a recent report issued by the Brookings Institution that recommends the Federal government reconsider its approach to collecting and publishing data on Native Americans. The blog links to the full report and its recommendations.
Census Bureau News
On April 3, the Bureau announced that it is inviting the public to review and submit feedback on proposed modernized disclosure avoidance methods for 2022 County Business Patterns (CBP) data. The 60-day comment period closes June 2.
The experimental Community Resilience Estimates (CRE) for Heat, a new data product, was unveiled on April 13. Community resilience is the capacity of individuals and households within a community to absorb the external stresses of a disaster. While the standard Community Resilience Estimates (CRE) measures the social vulnerability that inhibits community resilience, the experimental CRE for Heat measures social vulnerability in the context of extreme heat exposure, allowing for new risk factors to account for exposure.
The Bureau issued a press release on April 10 reminding businesses that it is not too late to respond to the 2022 Economic Census.
On April 6, the Census Bureau released a report describing trends in working from home before and after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March 2020.
Census Bureau Director Robert Santos published a blog on April 3 regarding how the agency is engaging the public in preparation for the 2030 Census.
Census Bureau Data Releases
New Business Formation Statistics (BFS) for March 2023 were released on April 17. The BFS provide timely and high frequency information on new business applications and formations in the United States.
On April 13, the Census Bureau released a downloadable file containing estimates of the nation’s resident population by sex and single year of age as of July 1, 2022.
On April 4, the Census Bureau released updated versions of the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES) data product and the OnTheMap application.
News You Can Use
Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in April 2023. For a complete listing, go to: https://thecensusproject.org/recent-media/.