Census 2020: What You Should Know
2020 Census Resources
As Census 2020 data is released, understanding the impacts on our local communities is important. There were many unprecedented challenges to a complete count this census and so responsible data use is even more important. This portal gives easy access to a variety of resources to help you understand the 2020 Census results.
Census Data in Our Community
As new data is released, D3 is analyzing it to understand changes in our community. These blog posts explain some of the work we’ve been doing! If you have questions about Census data in your community, please reach out to AskD3 and we’ll try to answer them.
Data Privacy in the 2020 Census
The first census responses were posted publicly in the town square for review. Since then, privacy has become increasingly protected by legal requirements. Click here to explore more about the history of privacy in the census. Today, the Census Bureau operates with a mandate to ensure people are both counted and protected from data breaches.
Balancing data privacy, the personal information that individuals report, with data utility, the ability for researchers to understand communities, is tricky. Read further about this with Urban Institute’s explanation of the theoretical and practical implications of these issues related to the 2020 Census.
Today, the Census Bureau is using differential privacy to protect individual data. While this causes some fuzziness in the data and we can’t know exactly how it impacts different demographics or communities, it does have a measurable component, called a privacy loss budget, that tells us exactly how much the data has been altered. Many experts consider this an improvement over the data swapping in previous rounds of the census because data swapping has no public-facing metrics.
Responsible Data Use
We love to advocate for smart and responsible use of data! Responsible Data Use requires being thoughtful about how data is presented and analyzed. Our responsible data series started with our first guide about how numbers on the same topic can convey different information. We’ve also explored examples of demonstrating margin of error and confidence intervals, and how they impact the accuracy of data taken from population samples. During the pandemic, we showed people how to understand data in a rapidly shifting environment.
Census 2020 had a number of changes that make it important to put all those tips into practice. For this particular release of Census data, we recommend* the following tips when using the data:
If you absolutely must use smaller geographical data (like blocks) combine as many together as possible
Be careful with smaller demographic groups in a region
Keep an eye out for data discrepancies resulting from the privacy-protection measures taken by the Bureau, especially at the block level
Some common ones noted by other researchers include:
- Occupied housing units but population count of 0
- All vacant housing units but a population count greater than zero
- Children under 18, but no adults in the population
- Blocks with a large number of people and few housing units, making the households appear unusually large
*Many thanks to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, & Budget for their help in developing our understanding of how to analyze Census 2020 data.
Our work leading up to the 2020 Census provided blog posts on a wide variety of topics related to the workings of the census in general. They’re still relevant to helping understand the vast amount of time, energy, and planning that goes into executing a complete count.
What is the Census? Every 10 years in the United States the decennial census takes place. The census is a constitutionally-mandated count of all of the people currently living in the country. Almost every government program you can think of is budgeted based on the...
The 2020 Census data is progressively being released through 2022. Watch this space for more resources about the 2020 Census.
Census 2020 Prep
Leading up to the Census, D3 compiled Complete Count resources with the support of the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. You can explore those resources on the archived portal.
Disclosure Avoidance for the 2020 Census: An Introduction
In this handbook, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Disclosure Avoidance System is described in the context of the 2020 Census Redistricting Data Summary File because those are the first 2020 Census data protected using the new confidentiality procedures.
See how the population and racial makeup of each state, county, and census tract has changed.
Census Bureau Mailing List
For regular updates about Census data releases, sign up for the Census Bureau’s mailing list.
2010 – 2020 Census Tract Changes Map
Census tracts get updated before the census. When making comparisons between 2020 and 2010 census data it’s important to consider how the tracts have changed.