Millions of people living in the U.S. territories—including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—are often excluded from federal statistical data collection. This contributes to a significant racial justice issue. Without comprehensive data, policymakers and researchers cannot fully understand the socio-economic challenges faced by all U.S. residents, including people living in the territories, who are disproportionately people of color. This blog—originally published by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—highlights the disparities in data collection between the U.S. territories and the rest of the U.S., the need for collecting high-quality data in U.S. territories, and the negative implications of analyzing an incomplete portrait of the nation.
Data Equity for Deaf Communities: Rethinking Accessibility, Outreach, & Data Collection in Federal Statistical Programs
Accurate and high-quality data about Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals and families are crucial for guiding research on Deafness, shaping policy for educational and employment support, enforcing civil rights protections, and providing resources for civic engagement. However, the Census Bureau undercounts and underrepresents Deaf or hard-of-hearing people, and fails to collect data about the use of their primary languages—American Sign Language and other signed languages. This fact sheet highlights several key data concerns and offers recommendations to improve engagement with Deaf and hard-of-hearing people and collect complete and accurate data.
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.
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.
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.