Advancing Data Equity for U.S. Territories

The U.S. cannot fully understand itself as a nation and the needs of its people without timely, complete, and accurate statistics on all of its citizens and residents. However, millions of U.S. citizens and residents living in the U.S. territories are not included in many key government data collection efforts and publications. These data disparities undermine the ability of policymakers and researchers to understand national and local challenges, including the unique risks posed by the climate emergency and pervasive social and economic inequalities. This brief—published jointly with Equally American—analyzes the implications of inadequate data collection in the U.S. territories and recommends steps federal policymakers can take to improve the timeliness and accuracy of data and understand the social, environmental, and economic challenges residents of U.S. territories face.

Advancing American Indian & Alaska Native Data Equity: Representation in Federal Data Collections

The United States must improve its data collection efforts in order to ensure equitable representation of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. Inequitable data have deep and pervasive impacts on American social, political, and economic systems. The current lack of accurate, reliable, and sufficiently detailed data risks making AI/AN peoples invisible to policymakers and reinforcing existing dynamics of marginalization. This report explores the history of AI/AN data in federal data collections, describes some nuances of working with AI/AN population data, and highlights the undercounting and underrepresentation of AI/AN populations in federal data collections. It also recommends proposed changes to data collection to increase equitable representation for AI/AN populations, which must be done in consultation with Tribal Nations in accordance with tribal sovereignty.

Administrative Data in the 2020 Census: Considerations for Civil Rights Groups

Since its inception at the turn of the 20th century, the Census Bureau has pioneered cutting edge methods and technologies to meet the vast and increasingly complex challenge of counting everyone in the United States. Civil rights organizations often work with the Census Bureau to ensure that innovations advance the accuracy and fairness of the decennial census. This brief focuses on one of the most significant areas of innovation over the past century: the use of “administrative data” (AD). AD are typically collected by government agencies and private-sector organizations while administering a program or service. For example, the U.S. Postal Services collects address information while delivering mail, creating an address dataset. This brief provides a definition of AD and a summary of how AD were used in the 2020 Census. The brief also introduces some key equity considerations regarding AD usage and offers potential next steps for civil rights groups.

2020 Census Count Question Resolution & Population Estimates Challenge Programs: Opportunities for Improving Postcensal Population Estimates

Census data are essential to equitable distribution of political power and federal resources for programs that support economic security, health, education, and more. In the years between each census, the Census Bureau produces annually-updated estimates of the nation’s population using the most recent census count as a starting point. To improve the quality of these updated population estimates, the bureau provides Tribal, state, and local governments with opportunities to identify and address a limited range of mistakes. These opportunities include the Count Question Resolution (CQR) and Population Estimates Challenge (Challenge) programs. This brief provides a clear description of these programs (and their limitations) to help stakeholders understand and engage in these opportunities to pursue more accurate population estimates.

Who Responded in the 2020 Census? Variation in Tract-Level Self-Response Rates in the 2020 U.S. Census

The goal of the decennial census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place. However, the Census Bureau has historically overcounted certain groups—including white people—while undercounting others—including people of color, young children, and people experiencing homelessness. These gaps undermine the fairness of the census and contribute to an inequitable distribution of political power and federal resources for programs that support economic security, health, and education. This working paper examines the self-response rates to the 2020 Census by various socio-economic, demographic, and housing characteristics in order to gain timely insights into the potential accuracy of the 2020 Census. The paper finds that the 2020 Census likely will contain similar inaccuracies seen in past censuses.