Oversight Committee Urges Census Bureau to Address Potential 2020 Census Undercounting, Highlight Discrepancy in Detroit Data

2020 Census Data Determines Communities’ Representation and Federal Funding

January 13, 2022

Washington, D.C. (January 13, 2022)— Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, along with Committee Members Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Brenda Lawrence, sent a letter to Census Bureau Director Robert Santos requesting information on whether the agency is looking into reported 2020 Census undercounting in Detroit, Michigan and other diverse communities.  Census data is a critical tool in determining the amount of federal funds that will go to communities, as well as congressional representation.

“The Census Bureau was forced to execute the 2020 Census under extremely challenging conditions, including the coronavirus pandemic that forced the Bureau to cut short the Census timeline and alter procedures.  The 2020 Census also suffered from repeated efforts by the Trump Administration to politicize the Census for partisan gain, including failed efforts to add a citizenship question, exclude undocumented immigrants from the count, and speed up data processing to exert more political control over the outcome.  These challenges may have led to significant undercounts of some communities and groups, particularly those that are traditionally hard to count,” wrote the Members.

According to an analysis conducted by the University of Michigan comparing 2020 Census data with the Census Bureau’s 2019 population estimate, residential units in the city of Detroit may have been undercounted by as much as 8.1%. 

Additional reports also suggest that the 2020 Census may have undercounted Black people by 2.45%, Latinos by 2.17%, and households with noncitizens by as much as 3.36%.  For some states, including New York, an undercount may have impacted congressional apportionment.

The Members requested that the Census Bureau provide a staff briefing by January 27, 2022, on the process and timeline the agency is using to analyze potential undercounts in the 2020 Census; the Bureau’s analysis of the potential undercount in Detroit and any steps being taken to address it; and any steps communities can take to challenge and amend their population counts when an undercount has occurred.

Click here to read the letter to Census Bureau Director Robert Santos.