Coronavirus Will Make the 2020 Census Even Trickier

From an article by Alex Davies in the Wired web site:

“Funding is tight, and a proposed citizenship question has made some people wary. Minorities and low-income Americans are most at risk of being missed.

“The decennial census is supremely important, to put it mildly. It’s not just the count that determines how the American people are represented in Congress (the bit that justifies its place in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution). It informs how businesses make myriad decisions and how civil rights laws are enforced. “It’s really the gold standard as a population frame upon which all surveys are taken,” says William Frey, a demographer and sociologist at the Brookings Institution. And it provides data that, in 2017 alone, was used to distribute some $1.5 trillion via 316 federal spending programs, according to research from the George Washington Institute of Public Policy at George Washington University.

“But there are reasons to worry about the government’s ability to accurately tally up the population this year. The Census Bureau faces “a set of unprecedented factors that could threaten a successful census,” says Terri Ann Lowenthal, the former staff director of the House Census Oversight Subcommittee. Those already included funding, political, and operational stressors. Now the alarming spread of the novel coronavirus—which the World Health Organization has officially deemed a pandemic—could make things even worse. And when the census falls short, it’s chiefly minorities and low-income Americans who lose out.”

You can read the full article at:

Sadly, our descendants will be left with missing or incomplete information about their ancestors.


Hopefully the bulk of the face-to-face work will be done after the “peak” has passed. But like the article said, probably half of the workers are already retired and more susceptible. That being said, there is very little, if any, personal contact. We are not allowed to enter the homes, much less shake hands or otherwise touch. While I have not yet seen the format of the personal interviews, earlier surveys were on computer that did not require any more than conversation. I do hope they raise the hourly rate to attract more listers 🙂


David Paul Davenport March 13, 2020 at 1:51 am

Census? What census (sarcasm)? I applied in March of 2019 to work for the Census and have received NOTHING in response. Every month I have faithfully logged on to the website to check the status of my application and all it has ever said is “pending review.” The word incompetent does begin to describe how I feel about our secretary of Commerce and whoever the head of the census bureau is this week. What a joke. The trump Administration is making the best case possible for not conducting any census in the future and using statistical models instead. I fought this suggestion in 1990 when I was a member of the task force in Atlanta that developed the “Tiger Files” of digitized census tract maps, but I am now convinced that allowing the government to do “anything” is a losing proposition for the public in general and tax payers in particular.


    Please don’t conflate “the government” with the current administration. The situation that we face now is an aberration. For proof, just look at the census information that we already have available to us and that we use for genealogical research.
    This too shall pass. Please stay positive and don’t lose confidence in our country’s government..


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