The US Census estimates that more than half a million Texans were lost during the 2020 count

AUSTIN (Texas Tribune) — Upended by politics and the pandemic, and with only a last-minute investment in advocacy by the state, the 2020 census likely undercounted the population of Texas by about 2%, the Bureau said Thursday. from the US Census

The national once-a-decade count put Texas’ official population at 29,145,505 after it gained the most residents of any state in the last decade, winning two additional seats in Congress. In a post-count analysis using household survey results, the bureau estimated that the count of people living in Texas households, a population slightly smaller than the total population, failed to find more than half a million. of residents. That’s the equivalent of skipping all the towns in Lubbock, Laredo, and then some.

The undercount means many residents were missing from the data used by state lawmakers last year to redraw congressional and legislative districts to distribute political power. Over the next decade, the undercount will also be integrated into the data used by governments and industry to plan and provide for communities.

Texas is just one of six states the bureau determined had a statistically significant undercount. The others were Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The census reflects on the daily lives of Texans and helps determine the distribution of millions of dollars in financing and services. It plays a role in decisions about where grocery stores are built, how many dollars are needed to adequately fund early childhood programs, which roads are built or repaired, and whether schools will be big enough.

The undercount follows state Republican leadership’s refusal ahead of the census to commit significant funding to an accurate count, rejecting proposals by Democratic lawmakers to create a statewide outreach committee and set aside millions of dollars in grants for outreach efforts. local.

Even as other states poured millions of dollars into census campaigns, Texas left it up to local governments, nonprofits and even churches to reach out to the millions of Texans who fall into categories of people that have historically been overlooked. by the count: immigrants, people living in poverty, and people who don’t speak English, to name a few.

Already depleted of state funding, local advocacy and outreach efforts that relied on in-person contact were shut down by the coronavirus pandemic just as they were ramping up in the spring of 2020. The office extended the count time by a few months, but Trump later the Administration expedited the deadline.

As Texas fell behind in the count compared to other states, organizers scrambled to reach the groups most at risk of being missed as the pandemic continued to ravage their communities. It wasn’t until the 11th hour that Texas quietly launched a sudden search for a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to promote the count using federal COVID relief dollars.

By then, with only a month to go, the self-response rate for Texas households had barely surpassed 60%. As census workers followed up in person with households that had not responded, the proportion of households counted increased, but Texas remained far behind other states and several percentage points below the national average.

Because it is based on the comparison of the 2020 census with a follow-up population survey, undercounting is more of a statistical guess and carries a margin of error. In the case of Texas, the bureau estimates the undercount could have been as large as 3.27% or as little as .57%. By limiting your analysis to people who live in households, you leave out people who live in college dorms, prisons, and other group accommodations.

The bureau reported no statistically significant undercounts after the 2010 census.

The bureau will not provide more detailed undercount figures to determine which areas of the state or residents were not included in the census. But earlier this year, he reported that communities were not equally excluded. Nationwide, the census significantly undercounted communities of color, missing Hispanic residents at a rate of 4.99% — more than triple the 2010 census rate. Black residents were undercounted at a rate of 3.3% and Native Americans at a rate of 5.64%.

The 2020 census also had a higher count of children under the age of 5 than any other census since 1970.

Even with the undercount data in hand, remedying the census results will be a difficult task and changes for political redistricting will not be allowed. States and municipalities have until next year to file challenges with the office, but so far no Texas municipality has challenged its local count.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs and engages with Texans on public policy, politics, government, and state affairs.

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