The new director of the census believes in the quality of the 2020 figures

The new director of the U.S. Census Bureau said Monday that he listens to the concerns of data users and politicians, and the agency is making ongoing advocacy efforts to restore public confidence lost after the Trump administration tried to politicize the number of heads of state in 2020.

Despite the attempts and obstacles created by the pandemic, the Census Bureau has done its job, and the figures used to determine political power and allocate federal funding “are quality products and they meet the purposes for which they were intended.” said Robert Santos. interview with .

“I am very confident, and I was incredibly pleased with the professionalism of the staff in the Census Bureau, the work they have done, and their commitment to the mission, the Constitution and the rule of law,” Santos said. have done the work that needed to be done to conduct the 2020 census, despite all obstacles. “

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The Trump administration has tried unsuccessfully add the question of citizenship to the 2020 census, which opponents feared could stifle the participation of immigrant groups. The Trump administration also named an unusually large number of political appointees to the bureau, and in early October last year it tried to end the counting of leaders after its schedule was adjusted to accommodate the pandemic, prompting opponents to try to publish the figures used. for the distribution of seats in Congress when President Donald Trump was still in office.

Decadely census data are also used to nominate political constituencies and help allocate $ 1.5 trillion in federal spending each year.

Last year, the Urban Institute think tank appreciated that 1.6 million people were missed in the 2020 census, with colored people, tenants, non-citizens, children and people living in Texas likely to be underestimated. In 2019, a year and a half before he was nominated for the post of head of the Census Bureau, Santos wrote a co-author report of the Urban Institute that said African Americans could be underestimated at the national level by 3.6% and Hispanics could be underestimated by 3.5%, at worst in the 2020 census.

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Santos, speaking to the Associated Press from his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, said Monday that he had “absolutely zero idea” if those predictions were accurate. Next month, the Census Bureau plans to release a report showing how well it has done its job. counting different population groups.

Santos began The five-year term headed the country’s largest statistical agency earlier this year after he was nominated for the post by President Joe Biden. In his new position, he oversees the release of more detailed data from the 2020 census later this year, and is preparing for the next census once a decade in 2030.

Santos said Monday that he is “eager” to work with the Budget and Governance to find out whether to combine issues of race and ethnicity and whether to add a category for people of Middle Eastern or North African descent to the 2030 census. form.

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A previous study by the Census Bureau in Sutland, Maryland, found that combining questions of race and ethnicity increased the number of responses from Hispanics who may be unsure how to answer a racial question because they often have mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds. The Office of Budget and Administration considered combining issues for the 2020 census, but the Trump administration decided to leave the racial issue separate from the ethnic one.

Published report Last month, three sociologists said that the current practice of classifying people from the Middle East or North Africa as white “may not be in line with their life experiences or perceptions of others.”

The director of the Census Bureau would not say whether he supported the inclusion of questions in the 2030 census form about sexual orientation or gender identity, saying that “my personal feelings are not food for this type of conversation.” a new Census Bureau poll formed during the pandemic, Household Pulse Survey, but never asked about in a much more complete decade-long census.

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“Basically, we need to think about how best to capture the portrait of the American public,” Santos said. “The American public has nuances. As time goes on, we become more diverse. We value culture, language, our own identities in ways that truly transcend what existed before. “

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Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

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