The 2020 Census and The Importance of the Hard-to-Count Population

By Robert Stickles

Every decade, when an updated version of the U.S. Census is published, questions regarding the accuracy of the information arise – and for good reason. The U.S. Census Bureau has the monumental, overwhelming task of counting every person in the United States and recording basic information such as race, sex, and age. But how can the Bureau accomplish this without making any errors? Well, it is almost impossible to collect perfect data without any mistakes, especially because many populations throughout the country are considered “Hard-to-Count.”

According to the Census Bureau, the groups that are especially difficult to gather data for are racial/ethnic minorities, linguistic minorities, lower income persons, homeless persons, undocumented immigrants, young mobile persons, and children. The government reported that in 2010 alone, the U.S. Census missed more than 1.5 million minorities nationwide after experiencing difficulty in counting black Americans, Hispanics, renters and young men. On the other hand, it was also reported that parts of the U.S. population had been over-counted, largely due to duplicate counts of affluent whites owning more than one home.

So, why is it crucial for U.S. Census to collect accurate data? To examine this topic, it is important to understand what the Census is used for. For the most part, the U.S. Census is used for population and demographic information. Population counts plays a large role in the way the government is run, as the correct population figures ensure that every community is given full representation in the halls of government. On top of that, the Census also assists in making the decisions regarding the distribution of public funds when it comes to educational programs, healthcare, law enforcement, and highways. If up-to-date population data are not available, areas of the country might not get their fair share of state Representatives or public funds.

The Hard-To-Count Hot Spots in Massachusetts and Greater Boston

Source: The Census 2020 HTC Map developed by the CUNY Mapping Service at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

In Massachusetts, many of the hard-to-count populations appear to be located in or around the larger cities such as Boston, Worcester, New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, and Brockton. Boston, the largest city in Massachusetts, faces the largest challenge in obtaining data for every person. In 2010, there were many tracts in Boston where fewer than 60 percent of households mailed back their 2010 Census questionnaire.

For Massachusetts, this means that anywhere that there is a large population of “Hard-to-Count” individuals, entire communities may not get the funding or the political representation that they need to fairly serve and provide for their citizens.

Introduction: Undergraduate Research Assistant, Robert Stickles

Hello Everyone,

My name is Robert Stickles and I am an Undergraduate Research Assistant here at the Public Policy Center. I am currently a sophomore at Umass Dartmouth, where I am majoring in Finance and minoring in Accounting. Before attending Umass Dartmouth, I went to Tabor Academy for four years and also attended Stonehill College for one year, where I studied Business and played on the men’s ice hockey team. I grew up around the Cape Cod/Buzzards Bay area and in my downtime, I can usually be found at one of the local beaches or partaking in other outdoor activities. I enjoy assisting in the gathering of research that will help to strengthen towns and communities. The team here has been extremely welcoming and I am eager to contribute to the Center.

Introduction: Graduate Research Assistant, Jim DeArruda

Hello, I’m Jim DeArruda, a Graduate Research Assistant at the UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center. I just began in the Fall 2017 semester. I began matriculation toward a Master’s in Public Policy in Fall 2015 by starting with the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Policy.

I came to the PPC after a 25-year career in newspapers (the last 20 at the same one), and the transition feels just right. The completion of my BS in Business Management plus my graduate studies wonderfully informed my past few years as an editorial writer, but I’m ready to put my effort into assisting the great academic research done at the PPC. In my first few weeks, my expectations have been well met, thanks to my new colleagues, some of whom have been my instructors. I consider myself very fortunate to be in this place right now.

I live in Dighton, Mass., in the home my father grew up in, and in which I raised my three children. I like doing things around my house by myself, whether it’s crafting tools, making home repairs or making jellies or other foodstuffs from the land around my home.

In Dighton, I’m the chairman of the Historical Commission, the secretary of the Council on Aging, and the Historical Commission representative to the Community Preservation Committee. My participation in town government has been rewarding and challenging, and is another example of how my graduate education has made other parts of my life richer.

I have spent most of my life living around and working in Southeastern Massachusetts. Generations of my family have worked on farms and in textile factories of Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford, so the work done at the PPC is very important to me. I consider it a privilege to be able to contribute to it.

Introduction: Undergraduate Research Assistant, Nathaniel Roberts

My name is Nathaniel Roberts. I am sophomore Political Science/Economics Double Major at UMass Dartmouth. I am a lifelong resident of Fall River. Fall River is a community that has been often overlooked and ignored due to a poor economic situation. The degrees I am working towards will help me put Fall River back on the map, hopefully one day as its political leader.

Interning here at the Public Policy Center is a step forward towards that goal. I am looking forward to having a deeper understanding of data analysis, something I think all future policy makers should have, and something I have wanted to attain since taking AP Statistics in high school.

I am most excited to be able to work in a field more closely related to my future goals and interests, since last summer I worked in a bread factory, and the summer before that in a kids’ youth camp.