Appropriations Update

Little has changed on the appropriations front since August, but the lack of change has become more concerning.

As a reminder, the House Commerce Justice Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved their respective versions of the FY 2024 CJS appropriations legislation in July, which would fund the Census Bureau at differing levels (the Senate providing $147 million more than the House).

With Congress at an impasse over Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations and only days remaining until the current fiscal year ends on September 30, the prospect of a Federal government shutdown seems almost certain because Congress has neither approved funding legislation nor a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open. Efforts at passing a CR (of varying levels of funding) have failed so far in the House and Senate.

So, what would a shutdown mean for the Census Bureau and its programs?

­During past government shutdowns, impacts included thousands of furloughed Census Bureau employees, suspended surveys, and delayed data releases. Given its constant presence in the field, the American Community Survey (ACS) experiences significant disruptions when Federal shutdowns occur. During shutdowns in 2013 and 2019, the Bureau did not conduct ACS non-response follow-up operations. As a result, ACS response rates dropped by 7 and 4 percentage points, respectively, raising concerns about the quality and utility of these essential socioeconomic and demographic data. There are also concerns in the economics community about having to forego updates to key economic indicators.

September 27, 2023 memorandum from the Commerce Department (which oversees the Bureau) outlined its operations if a “lapse in Congressional appropriations” occurs. According to the document, the Census Bureau anticipates “that it will have sufficient funding from other than current year appropriations to continue to release data products from the 2020 Census.”  Activities that the Bureau will not sustain during a shutdown “include the Economic Census, the production of Economic Indicators, the American Community Survey, and other activities funded from lapsed appropriations and reimbursable activities to the extent not funded.” If a shutdown occurs and lasts longer than anticipated, the Census Bureau may revise its plans.

The Census Project will report on any news about the effects of a federal government shutdown on the Census Bureau, including changes to the agency’s 2023 contingency plan.

Stakeholders still support higher levels of census funding

On September 5, more than 90 national, state, and local organizations joined a Census Project stakeholder letter to Congressional Appropriators stressing the need to support the higher funding level for the Census Bureau in the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice and Related Sciences (CJS) appropriations legislation. As noted in a press release, a broad array of organizations representing the private, public, non-profit, and academic sectors signed the letter, including the National Association of Counties, US Conference of Mayors, the Population Association of America, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Nielsen, National Association of REALTORS, Insights Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and others.

“Funding levels for the Census Bureau in the House and Senate CJS bills, $1.354 and $1.501 billion, respectively, fall short of what the President requested, and the level census stakeholders endorsed,” the letter said.

Stressing the critical planning year that is ahead, the letter pointed out that, “In FY 2024, the Bureau will choose a design and release an initial operational plan for the 2030 Census—decisions that will affect every facet of the next decennial. Sound investments now will help to ensure the future success and cost efficiency of the 2030 Census by reducing the risk of requiring unplanned, additional funding in the peak planning years later in the decade. In addition, increased funding will enable the Bureau to pursue a thoughtful research agenda to ensure the 2030 Census is inclusive and accurate.”

Policy Update

Census Project Releases Series of ACS Fact Sheets

The Census Project recently unveiled a series of fact sheets highlighting unique uses of the American Community Survey (ACS), featuring ways in which ACS data are used to inform planning and investment decisions in the private and public sectors. In addition, there are materials illustrating how the ACS helps meet the needs of veterans, the health care industry, and communities affected by natural disasters. Another piece addresses the role that the ACS plays in ensuring compliance with laws designed to promote civil engagement and protect individuals from discrimination.

The goal of these fact sheets is to promote greater understanding of the ACS and how a broad range of data users and stakeholders rely on its data.

AEI and CBPP Provide Different Contexts for Income and Health Insurance Coverage Statistics Releases

Tied to the Census Bureau’s release of their 2022 income and poverty estimates, an event at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) broke down the data and discussed “what they mean for the United States’ economic well-being,” before turning to “the state of poverty measurement and how it can be improved in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in a new report from the Center pointed to policy recommendations and two “things to look for”:

  1. “Poverty may have risen by historic amounts, driven by the expiration of pandemic relief including, notably, the expanded Child Tax Credit. This rise will be seen in the more comprehensive of the government’s two poverty measures.”
  2. “A smaller share of people than ever may have lacked health insurance in 2022 — but figures will not reflect the coverage loss underway in 2023 due to the expiration of pandemic-era Medicaid coverage safeguards.”

A blog earlier this year from the Census Project covered some of the controversy over poverty measurement.

New FRN on adding a sexual orientation / gender identity question

The U.S. Census Bureau released a Federal Register Notice on adding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) questions to the American Community Survey. The Bureau proposes to test question wording, response categories, and placement of sexual orientation and gender identity questions on the questionnaire.

SIPP sample size concerns

The Leadership Conference submitted a comment letter urging the Census Bureau to reconsider its recommendation to reduce the sample size of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and instead “identify adequate fiscal resources to preserve the future of this vital measure of household economic health and stability.”

California Could Lose 5 Congressional Seats in 2030 Apportionment

Election data provider Decision Desk predicted that California will “lose 5 congressional districts in the 2030 reapportionment cycle… if current trends continue.” The Golden State lost a seat in the last round of Congressional redistricting after the 2020 Census, but it still boasts the largest delegation in Congress. As the Decision Desk points out, “its historically fast-growing population” has “slowed or reversed” in recent years.

Census Funding Could Impact Arizona’s Undercount

The 2020 Census “significantly undercounted” Latinos and Native Americans in Arizona, a recent op-ed in the Arizona Republic noted, “and underfunding could ensure it happens again.” Ed Kissam, a member of the Census Quality Reinforcement Task Force, wrote that, “The Census Bureau estimates there was a 4.99% undercount of Hispanics and a 5.64% undercount of American Indians on tribal lands in 2020. With a population that is 30.7% Hispanic and 6.3% American Indian, the stakes are high for Arizona.”

Census Bureau News

Deputy Director Ron Jarmin blogged about “Transforming the Census Bureau’s Annual Surveys of Businesses.”

A Census Bureau blog discussing how they “measure racial and ethnic diversity and use data from the interactive visualization to show that while the population under 5 years old was the nation’s most racially and ethnically diverse age group, variation existed among geographies.”

Prior to the data release, the Census Bureau blogged about “What You Should Know About the Upcoming Detailed Demographic and Housing Characteristics File A.”

Another Bureau blog discussed “how well the published statistics fit within those targets, giving us confidence in the accuracy and usefulness of the data. We’ll also explain some situations where we suppressed data for groups, and we’ll provide guidance for calculating numbers (like percentages) that are not available in the published tables and for making comparisons.”

A Census Bureau blog explained the difference between the Supplemental and Official Poverty Measures.

A Bureau blog discussed “How Inflation Affects the Census Bureau’s Income and Earnings Estimates.”

The Bureau tried to explain who “the Ultimate Consignee is in an export transaction.”

The Bureau blogged about “Three Results From Recent Research on Advanced Technology Use and Automation.”

A Census Bureau blog looked at “Using Administrative Data to Evaluate Nonresponse Bias in the 2023 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.”

The Bureau announced the launch of the 2022 Annual Integrated Economic Survey (AIES), a limited-scope collection of the 2023 AIES that will launch in March 2024. The AIES provides key yearly measures of economic activity, including the only comprehensive national and subnational data on business revenues, employment, expenses and assets on an annual basis.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced data collection began for version two of the Business Trends and Outlook Survey (BTOS), a survey that measures business conditions on an ongoing basis. The BTOS will now include data for multiunit/multilocation businesses.

The U.S. Census Bureau is partnering with the Puerto Rico IT Cluster to co-host a Data Innovation Symposium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 12-13. The event will take place as part of the 10th anniversary of the CIO & IT Leadership Conference.

Director Santos posted a blog pondering “what being a public servant really means for us at the U.S. Census Bureau.”

The U.S. Census Bureau will recognize the manufacturing sector’s importance and vast contribution to the nation’s economy with a weeklong celebration culminating on Manufacturing Day, observed annually (the first Friday in October since 2011) to showcase the benefits and potential of modern manufacturing and spur interest in manufacturing careers.

Census Bureau Data Releases

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that real median household income in 2022 fell in comparison to 2021. The official poverty rate of 11.5% was not statistically different between 2021 and 2022. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate in 2022 was 12.4%, an increase of 4.6 percentage points from 2021. This is the first increase in the overall SPM poverty rate since 2010. Meanwhile, 92.1% of the U.S. population had health insurance coverage for all or part of 2022 (compared to 91.7% in 2021). An estimated 25.9 million or 7.9% of people did not have health insurance at any point during 2022, according to the 2023 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). That compares to 27.2 million or 8.3% of people who did not have health insurance at any point during 2021.

Twenty-seven states had a higher percentage of people with health insurance coverage in 2022 than in 2021 according to American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. In terms of uninsured rates, or the rate of people without health insurance, Maine was the only state where the uninsured rate increased (up to 6.6% in 2022, from 5.7%).

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2020 Census population counts and sex-by-age statistics for 300 detailed race and ethnic groups, as well as 1,187 detailed American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) tribes and villages. These data come from the 2020 Census Detailed Demographic and Housing Characteristics File A (Detailed DHC-A).

The U.S. Census Bureau on September 14 released data from the Business Trends and Outlook Survey (BTOS), a survey that measures business conditions on an ongoing basis. The BTOS is the successor to the Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS), a high-frequency survey that measured the effect of changing business conditions during the coronavirus pandemic and other major events like hurricanes on our nation’s small businesses.

The Bureau released new Business Formation Statistics (BFS) for August 2023.

The U.S. Census Bureau released new data from phase 3.10 of the experimental Household Pulse Survey (HPS).

The Bureau offered a two-day embargo period to allow media members access to the 2023 National Population Projections.

The U.S. Census Bureau released the 2021 Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS). The data provide measures of business dynamics, such as job creation and destruction, establishment births and deaths, and firm startups and shutdowns for the economy overall and aggregated by establishment and firm characteristics. BDS is an annual time-series, covering the years 1978 to 2021.

The U.S. Census Bureau released data on the nation’s inventory and use of selected vehicles. The Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) is a joint partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Federal Highway Administration; the U.S. Department of Energy; and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Bureau released an interactive map illustrating 2020 Census data about homeownership by the age, race and ethnicity of the householder. The map provides data at the national, state and county levels and data from the 2010 Census for comparison.

News You Can Use

Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in August 2023.  For a complete listing, go to: https://thecensusproject.org/recent-media/.

Most government economic data will ‘completely cease’ during a shutdown
yahoo!finance
September 28, 2023

Court rulings poised to play pivotal role in battle for Congress
The Washington Post
September 27, 2023

Court denies Alabama’s request to use voting map with only one majority-Black district
SCOTUSblog
September 26, 2023

An annual survey from the Census Bureau aims for better data on the LGBTQ+ population
NPR
September 24, 2023

These 2020 census results break down people’s race and ethnicity into details
NPR
September 22, 2023

Oklahoma’s poverty rate is among the highest in the country
KOSU
September 18, 2023

Study: Alaska is failing to keep most Alaska-born residents
Alaska Public Media
September 15, 2023

Houston poverty rates the highest among major U.S. metros, new Census data shows
Houston Chronicle
September 14, 2023

Dollars and Demographics: How Census Data Shapes Federal Funding Distribution
POGO
September 11, 2023

Tribal nations face less accurate, more limited 2020 census data because of privacy methods
Associated Press
September 8, 2023

New Jersey investigative panel finds no manipulation in 2021 congressional redistricting
New Jersey Monitor
September 6, 2023

Who is Hispanic?
Pew Research Center
September 5, 2023

US May Soon Be Facing Own Fertility Crisis as Dire as Japan’s
The Messenger
September 2, 2023

Labor, OPM, Census dialing up AI tools to crunch data, improve mission outcomes
Federal New Network
September 1, 2023

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