Review of 2020 Census self-response rates for the city and state. Highlighted topics:
- Latest self-response rates for New York State and counties & cities with highest/lowest rates at early end (10/15) of data collection period.
- Counties, cities, etc meeting or surpassing 2010 goalpost rates.
- Growth of concentration of counties meeting/surpassing 2010 rates.
- NYC self-response rates.
- Key takeaways and final thoughts.
Final review of self-response rate trends throughout the 2020 Census self-response operation. Highlighted topics:
- Latest self-response rates at the early end (10/15) of the data collection period.
- Overview of self-response rates throughout the extended timeframe and trends impacting those rates.
- Increase in number of states and other areas meeting or surpassing 2010 goalpost rates.
- Important demographic shifts in tracts with the lowest rates (requiring most door-knocking follow up): fewer people who are Hispanic or immigrants, and fewer renter households. But overall population in "bottom 20%" tracts are still disproportionately people of color, foreign-born, lower income, etc.
- Response rates by predominant race/Hispanic origin in census tracts across cities by size & rural/suburban/urban areas (including tribal lands).
- Key takeaways and final thoughts.
Analysis of response rate metrics during the 2020 Census Nonresponse Follow-up (NRFU) operation. Highlighted topics:
- Latest self-response rate trends during the door-knocking operation, including efforts to boost response such as the Census Bureau's "7th mailing;"
- "Total" response rates by state, and what they can and cannot tell us;
- Nonresponse follow-up (NRFU) "completion" rates by Area Census Office, including examples of decreasing completion rates; and
- How we've mapped these rates and displayed them on our online HTC/Response Rate map, and examples of interpreting all three rate metrics together.
Analysis of the 19th and 20th weeks of 2020 Census self-response rates (July 24 through August 6). Highlighted topics:
- Selected recent local response rate increases in areas of targeted Get Out The Count (GOTC) efforts;
- Self-response in NRFU “soft launch” areas; what it might mean when NRFU begins nationwide (Aug. 11);
- Areas that have met or surpassed their final 2010 response rates, and areas that are behind their 2010 rates and are most at risk of a rushed NRFU operation;
- Bottom 20 percent of tracts by response rate; and
- Wrapping up; taking stock.
Low self-response rates in 2020 in many places will require a greater share of door-knocking followup than in 2010, highlighting disparate consequences if NRFU is rushed. Maps from the Center for Urban Research visualize these patterns.
Analysis of the 17th and 18th weeks of 2020 Census self-response rates (July 10 through July 23). Highlighted topics:
- Areas that have met or surpassed their final 2010 response rates;
- Bottom 20 percent of tracts by response rate:
- Demographics, compared with top 20% (geographic patterns, and implications for Nonresponse Follow-up (NRFU); and
- Update/Leave areas have improved, but rates still low.
Analysis of the 14th, 15th, and 16th weeks of 2020 Census self-response rates (June 19 through July 9). Highlighted topics:
- Modest nationwide response rate increases since June 19 but notable state and local increases;
- Details on states, counties, tracts, etc that have met or surpassed their final 2010 response rates;
- Summary updates on the latest response rate trends for:
- Internet First vs Internet Choice tracts
- Tracts by plurality race/Hispanic origin
- Tracts with lowest response rates nationwide compared with highest rates;
- CUNY Map updates: NRFU soft launch; new features for online trendline visualization.
Analysis of the 12th and 13th weeks of 2020 Census self-response rates (June 5 through June 18). Highlighted topics:
- Substantial nationwide and statewide (and in Puerto Rico) response rate increases the weekend of June 12;
- Details about those increases in states & communities where Update/Leave operations resumed as of May 6;
- Notable increases also in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago;
- Internet First vs Internet Choice: rates increasing for tracts that received bilingual mailing;
- Response rates across tracts by plurality race/Hispanic origin; and
- New online trendline visualization and new response rate metric to help support GOTC work during the extended self-response timeframe.
Analysis of the 10th and 11th weeks of 2020 Census self-response rates (May 22 through June 4). Highlighted topics:
- NYC's response rate continues to outpace U.S. increases;
- The latest response rates in states where Update/Leave operations resumed as of May 6: modest increases;
- Closer look at communities already meeting their final 2010 response rates;
- Update on Internet First vs Internet Choice gap; and
- Update on response rates in plurality “historically undercounted population” census tracts.
Analysis of the 8th and 9th weeks of 2020 Census self-response rates (May 8 through May 21). Highlighted topics:
- Rates in some cities are outpacing U.S. increases again
- Restart of Update/Leave Operation: Is it making a difference (yet)?
- What do the lowest responding census tracts ("bottom 20%") look like?
- Response rates in tracts with a plurality of foreign-born population from selected countries
Analysis of the 7th week (May 1 through May 7) of 2020 Census self-response rates. Highlighted topics:
- More evidence of response rate boosts from 4th mailing/related outreach
- Demographics of Internet Choice vs Internet First
- Historically undercounted groups
- Update/Leave operations restarting in some states
Analysis of the 6th week (April 24 through April 30) of 2020 Census self-response rates. Highlighted topics:
- pace of daily change in rates for internet-only compared with mail/phone
- Internet Choice, Internet First (4th mailing with paper questionnaire boosting mail response, result most noticeable in Internet First areas, response rates in Internet Choice areas still lagging)
- demographic trends (rates in areas with concentrations of historically undercounted groups)
Analysis of the 5th week (April 17 through April 23) of 2020 Census self-response rates. Highlighted topics:
- pace of daily change for internet-only compared with mail/phone
- city / metropolitan area / suburb / rural trends (two examples: Michigan/Detroit & Texas/Houston)
- demographic trends for tracts with lowest rates
- response rate gap between Internet Choice and Internet First tracts
Analysis of the 4th week (April 10 through April 16) of 2020 Census self-response rates. Highlighted topics:
- using HTC/Response Rate map to identify uneven response rates locally & regionally;
- new extended census timeframe (and new approach to assessing self-response/nonresponse follow-up implications for historically undercounted populations);
- Update/Leave and internet access; and
- Internet First compared with Internet Choice census tracts.
Analysis of the 3rd week (April 3 through April 9) of 2020 Census self-response rates. Highlighted topics:
- progress in Update/Leave areas (especially response rates on tribal lands);
- response rates in tracts across cities, by size of city; and
- historically undercounted populations.
Analysis of the 2nd week (March 27 through April 2) of 2020 Census self-response rates. Highlighted topics:
- suspension of Update/Leave operation;
- possible relationship with COVID-19 trends;
- Internet First / Internet Choice / bilingual mailings; and
- response rates by demographic characteristics.
Analysis of the 1st week (March 20 through March 26) of 2020 Census self-response rates. Highlighted topics:
- internet response patterns & Internet First and Internet Choice;
- bilingual mailings; and
- historically undercounted populations.
We have received several emails asking how to map the 2020 Census self-response rates, and how to compare those rates with demographic characteristics & other census participation metrics. This is not as straightforward as you might think, due to new data from the Census Bureau combined with Census Bureau terms that can be confusing. This Census 2020 Self-Response Data Q&A is intended to help guide other data analysts as they try to make sense of the 2020 (and 2010) self-response rates.
The Center for Urban Research (CUR) at the CUNY Graduate Center has updated its Census 2020 Hard to Count (HTC 2020) map with self-response trends from the past two decennial censuses, to provide historical context as stakeholders fine-tune their Get Out the Count (GOTC) plans and participate in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Response Rate Challenge. The analysis below provides background for this information and the importance of self-responding to the decennial census, especially as the count takes place during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Center for Urban Research (CUR) at the CUNY Graduate Center updated its Census 2020 Hard to Count (HTC 2020) map with self-response trends from the past two decennial censuses, to provide historical context as stakeholders fine-tune their Get Out the Count (GOTC) plans and participate in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Response Rate Challenge. This explainer discusses the different ways the Census Bureau measures self-response for the decennial census.
NB: This post was updated December 2019.
For the 2020 census, the Census Bureau will be providing options for households across the country to submit their census responses, compared with 2010 when almost all households received a paper questionnaire by mail and were asked to return the completed form also by mail. Depending where you live, you may receive a mailed invitation with a unique ID to respond online or by phone (an "Internet First" mailing). Or you may receive a paper version of the census questionnaire that you can mail back to the Bureau (this is an "Internet Choice" mailing because it will include the paper questionnaire plus instructions for responding online). Some of these areas may receive the mailing in Spanish and English. Other communities will not be receiving a mailed invitation at all; instead they either will receive hand-delivered census packets from the Census Bureau or will be counted directly in-person. The information on all these different 2020 Census contact techniques is now combined in one place at our Hard to Count map, so census stakeholders can more easily inform local residents about what to expect when the 2020 decennial census takes place.
The nation’s more than 16,700 public libraries will likely play an essential role in helping to ensure a fair and accurate 2020 census. Not only are public libraries important information sources for local communities across the country, but virtually all public libraries provide public internet access computers as well as public wi-fi. Internet access is critical because for the first time the decennial census in 2020 will be available online, and the Census Bureau will be urging most households to submit their replies to the census questionnaire via a secure website. Public library computers can provide a convenient opportunity to submit 2020 census information for households that do not otherwise have easy access to the internet. This analysis by the Center for Urban Research at The Graduate Center / CUNY examines the proximity of public libraries in the U.S. to hard-to-count census tracts and areas with poor internet access, with an eye toward the role of libraries in the upcoming 2020 Census.
For the upcoming 2020 Census, the Census Bureau plans to open only 248 Area Census Offices — half as many as in 2010 — to carry out important census tasks and valuable local assistance. The cut in the number of local census offices affects almost every state and many counties in urban, rural, & suburban areas across the country. The link above provides charts that display the proposed reductions for the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as for the counties that will experience the largest drops in the number of local offices.
For the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will urge most households to fill out the census form online rather than use a paper questionnaire. This is an effort to boost self-response rates and reduce costs. But in some areas of the country, especially in disadvantaged communities that have proven more vulnerable to being undercounted in the past, relatively low internet access may hinder the effort to increase online response. This could make it even more challenging to conduct a fair and accurate census in the nation's hardest-to-count areas, and counterintuitively may also adversely impact some areas that would be considered more likely to self-respond during the 2020 Census based on historical trends. The Center for Urban Research's analysis presents these concerns. Also, our Hard to Count online map shows which communities across the country may be impacted the greatest by these issues.
For more information, contact:
Center for Urban Research
at the Graduate Center, City University of New York
All work and materials are supported by a grant from the 2020 Census Project
and developed in partnership with the Leadership Conference Education Fund.