Census Undercount Looms In North Carolina

Census Undercount Looms In North Carolina

4:21pm Aug 07, 2020
Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, census worker Jennifer Pope wears a mask and sits by ready to help at a U.S. Census walk-up counting site set up for Hunt County in Greenville, Texas, Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The results of the 2020 Census determine federal funding from hospitals and schools all the way to representation in Congress.

With just seven weeks remaining, more than four in ten North Carolina households have yet to fill out the form — and an undercount might hold consequences for communities of color.

Forsyth and Guilford Counties have among the highest self-response rates in the state at just over 60 percent. But they’re still well below 2010’s numbers, and many of the poorest tracts lag far behind. 

Rebecca Tippett is the director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center. She says COVID-19 costs, hurricane displacements, and now a shortened time window have created a perfect storm for undercounts.

"The concern in this current environment where we’re cutting short the door knockings and we’re also cutting short the time to calculate the population and the statistical methods on the back end — because Congress has not approved the request for an extension to produce those numbers — [is] that we will see undercounts in communities that are not currently well-counted," says Tippett.

In order to reach every citizen in North Carolina, Tippett says Census field workers will be going door-to-door collecting data at households where residents have yet to respond to the census.

That work begins next week. 

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