The U.S. Census Bureau stands to undercount millions of Californians across the state in its 2020 survey, an error that could result in less federal funding or the loss of a congressional seat, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
The study measured the potential for miscount in individual census tracts, small geographic areas used to more accurately calculate a state’s population. In some of these tracts, researchers estimate as many as 45% of residents might not respond.
In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the 2020 census would include a question on citizenship status. California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra responded by suing the Trump administration, arguing that the question would make noncitizens reluctant to participate. An undercount would allow the federal government to direct resources away from California, which has the largest immigrant population in the country.
“Part of the reason there’s so much at stake for California is that so many Californians fall into groups that have been historically underrepresented,” said Tess Thorman, a Public Policy Institute research associate.
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