The Massive Data Institute and Urban Institute created a tool to help state and local decision makers explore 2020 Census data and learn whether their county’s counts deviated from expectations.
Although the Census Bureau’s goal is to take a snapshot of the population on April 1, the process to count every resident is closer to carefully gathering and organizing puzzle pieces for an unknown picture.
The US Census Bureau finds those pieces by collecting census questionnaires, counting residents in remote areas of Alaska, and going door-to-door to households who have not filled out the questionnaire. The Census Bureau then carefully places each piece to determine how many people live in each area of the country, completing the population puzzle.
But the 2020 Census process couldn’t follow its usual process. The COVID-19 pandemic and related stay-at-home orders, new household compositions, possible changes to the survey itself, displacement of college students, and natural disasters are some of many events that potentially altered the pieces.
With these changes, many may wonder: “How much can we trust the 2020 Census picture? Are we missing any pieces?”
We hope state and local decision makers will use this tool to investigate the 2020 Census data product releases for data equity challenges and the impact of collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. When using the tool, if a user sees a county is highly divergent, they may then want to dig deeper to verify the counts.
Over the next year, our team will continue to update the 2020 Census County Assessment Tool and create new tools as the U.S. Census Bureau releases data products, such as the 2016–2020 American Community Survey. We encourage users to email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how the data align with their expectations and what improvements they would like to see.
This post originally appeared on Urban Institute’s Data@Urban blog. The featured image for this story was designed by Rhiannon Newman for the Urban Institute.