Increasing Community Engagement
The other big reason that populations can be hard to count is because of a general distrust or disengagement with government. The Census Bureau made a conscience effort to increase community engagement in order to assist in alleviating this distrust during the 2010 Census. One way they achieved this was by expanding the community partnership program
by hiring over 400% more staff.
There was a significant push towards community engagement with the Be Counted/Questionnaire Assistance Program
. This program was designed to reach populations that may not have received questionnaires or may have lost theirs. This was achieved by placing forms in community hubs such as community centers, libraries, places of worship etc. These forms were usually in booths in central locations and staffed for roughly 15 hours a week. During this time staff would answer questions, relieve concerns, and assist people in ensuring that they were counted.
The Bureau also attempted to engage with those in non-conventional living arrangements with the use of service based enumeration staff. These staff were strategically positioned to connect with these HTC populations by using previous Census data and recommendations by community leaders to set up in marketplaces, tent encampments, and other outdoor locations known to have concentrations of people without conventional housing.
How Effective was the 2010 Census in Capturing HTC Populations?
After each Census, the Bureau conducts an analysis of how effective the Census was called the Post Enumeration Survey. This survey uses a statistical method known as dual-system estimation (commonly referred to as capture-recapture) to approximate the level of accuracy the Census had. The survey involves taking another population sample shortly after the Census is conducted and comparing it to the results of the Census in order to get an approximation of the Census accuracy.
The 2010 post enumeration survey suggested that the Census overall was quite accurate, with an estimated net over count of 0.1%. This estimate placed the 2010 U.S. Census as one of the most accurate Census’ ever for any country. Just because the overall Census was close to the true population counts, however, does not mean that HTC populations are no longer an issue, in fact many of the HTC populations were still undercounted by significant margins, while other populations such as those who own more than one home were over counted.
The survey estimated that renters were undercounted by 1.1%, African Americans by 2.1%, Hispanics by 1.5%, and Native Americans living on reservations by 4.9%. In general the 2010 Census counted these HTC populations worse than the 2000 Census did despite doing better overall. This shows that cities with large amounts of HTC populations, like Detroit, should increase efforts in preparing for the upcoming 2020 Census.