National Urban League Report Warns a Historic Undercount Could Leave Communities Underfunded for a Decade

Portrait Of Extended Family Group In Park

The National Urban League is concerned that Black America is showing low participation in the 2020 Census throughout the United States, raising the risk that a historic number of Black Americans will be entirely missed and left out.

The National Urban League released its report titled “State of the 2020 Census: An Accurate Black Count At Risk” in mid-June.  

The report was developed as part of the League’s Census campaign, Make Black Count, aimed at increasing Black participation in the census to avoid an undercount. The full report can be found at MakeBlackCount.org.

“The U.S. Census Bureau and the current Administration must do all that it can to ensure an accurate count of the Black population by reallocating media resources and outreach to address these circumstances,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “Historically, African Americans have been undercounted each decade.  Approximately 3.7 million African Americans were entirely uncounted in the 2010 Census. The 2020 Census raises new risks and uncertainties that put an already vulnerable Black count at extreme risk.”

The National Urban League is urging Black Americans to fill out their census forms. This is the 24th census undertaken in the history of the nation, and for the first eight, most African Americans counted as only three-fifths of a person.

Currently approximately 25 percent of households residing in predominantly Black areas are in the bottom 20 percent  of response rates (below 50 percent), according to CUNY mapping tool.

The Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Census Center is responsible for overseeing the Census effort in seven Southern states: Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina

In Louisiana, 34 of the states 64 parishes have response rates to the Census that are below 50 percent, according to the NUL report.

Other key findings of the report include:

• Young Black Children are poised to experience historic undercounts in the 2020 Census. Almost 1.2 million young black children live in Very High Risk of Undercount Census tracts. Seven out of 10 black and brown children 0-5 years old were not counted in the 2010 Census.

• Several large cities and jurisdictions with large Black populations trail their state response rates by 10 or more percentage points (i.e., St. Louis, MO, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, Detroit, MI. 

• The U.S. Census Bureau’s enumeration of persons experiencing homelessness has not occurred. This operation needs additional time, particularly given the U.S. Census Bureau’s planned one-day nationwide count of persons living outdoors. Predominantly black metropolitan areas with substantial homeless populations could require more than a one-day enumeration of this most vulnerable population.

• The U.S. Census Bureau’s difficulty in rescheduling the enumeration of college and university students and conducting outreach targeting these communities with clear and concise guidance, will impact local communities and the black count overall, if not corrected.

• An undercount of the Black population in southern states will impact the overall Black count in America.  One U.S. Census Regional Census Center is responsible for enumerating seven states (FLA, GA, SC, NC, MS, AL, LA), with significant Black populations in the 2020 Census.

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