Archive for the 'Population Dynamics' Category

Census Bureau is on the radar

The Census Bureau is losing its director at the end of this month and due to the pace of political appointments by the administration it could be a long time before it gets a director. This is serious because the Census Bureau is ramping up to the 2020 Census without enough money and was included in the High Risk Report compiled by the Government Accountability Office.

But, instead of focusing on this, Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI noticed that a subcontract for the media campaign has potential political leanings and wants an investigation:

GOP senator voices concerns about pro-Dem firm working 2020 Census
Will Carr | Fox News
June 5, 2017
Fox News has learned that last summer, a pro-Democratic analytics firm that describes itself as “a platform for hope and change” was included as a subcontractor in a $415 million advertising contract for the 2020 Census.

The editorial team at Bloomberg News is focused on the big picture:

Avoiding the Census Fiasco of 2020
Editorial Board | Bloomberg News
June 5, 2017
More is at stake than you might think.

Here are a few snips from this editorial

The fact that the census of 2020 is shaping up to be a fiasco is no small matter.

The troubles at the Census Bureau aren’t new. Nonetheless it falls to President Donald Trump to fix the problem — and to do this, he’ll need to move quickly.

Soon it will be too late to get back on track. Without delay, Trump must nominate competent people to fill the empty posts, and Congress must allocate money for the necessary tests. The census debacle of 2020 is looming.

So, to the nominations or “help wanted” problem:

white house with help wanted sign

Here’s a tracking database on the status of political appointments for President Trump. There are a lot of open nominations. In spite of a Trump tweet that Congress is obstructing his appointments, the bigger story is how few nominations there are. As of this post, there was no nominee for 441 of the 559 key positions requiring Senate confirmation. See tracking data base below to check on the status of his appointments.

This tracking database is a cooperative project by the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post. Click either link for access:

Partnership for Public Service | Washington Post

Census Bureau director resigns

The Census Bureau director has just given notice that he’ll be resigning on June 30, 2017. His term officially ended in December 2016, but he has continued his role as director. This is a crucial time for the Census Bureau as it is ramping up for the 2020 Census without enough funds – at least in historical terms.

funding graph

[Link to FiveThirtyEight post on Census Bureau funding]

Here’s the coverage of John Thompson’s resignation in reverse chronological order:

The U.S. census is in trouble. This is why it’s crucial to what the nation knows about itself
Henry Farrell | Monkey Cage Blog, Washington Post
May 15, 2017

Excellent synopsis of an interview with Ken Prewitt, former Census Bureau director. And, a nice conclusion as well:

President Trump must now step in, name a high-quality director and insist that Congress provide the Census Bureau the money it needs. The 2020 Census will begin in April of that year — right in the middle of primary season. The bureau’s troubles pre-date Mr. Trump’s ascension, but the census is happening on his watch. If it fails, he will own it.

Is the census heading for a crisis?
Danny Vinik | Politico
May 13, 2017

The director resigns just as the $1.5 billion agency heads into its biggest test. Next in command may be a weather forecaster.

The Head of the Census Resigned. It Could Be as Serious as James Comey
Haley Sweetland Edwards | Time
May 12, 2017

In a week dominated by President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, you could be forgiven for missing the imminent departure of another, less prominent federal official.

Yet the news this week that John H. Thompson, the director of the Census Bureau, has abruptly resigned is arguably as consequential to the future of our democracy. That’s because the Census Bureau, while less flashy than the FBI, plays a staggeringly important role in both U.S. elections and an array of state and federal government functions.

Census Director to Resign Amid Worries Over 2020 Head Count
Jonah Bromwich | New York Times
May 10, 2017

Census Bureau Director Resigns As Agency Faces Funding Debate
Doreen McCallister | NPR
May 10, 2017

US Census Bureau director abruptly resigns
Brooke Seipel | The Hill
May 9, 2017

U.S. Census director resigns amid turmoil over funding of 2020 count
Tara Bahrampour | Washington Post
May 9, 2017

Census director quits as census ramps up
Michael McAuliff | Huffington Post
May 9, 2017
Facing a major budget crunch, the man who was counting the U.S. population for Trump is resigning

[Bonus content]
Census2020 Oversight Hearing
May 3, 2017

Census Bureau director stepping down amid watchdog concerns
Jory Heckman | Federal News Radio
May 9, 2017

In the nick of time?

The Census Bureau released the subjects they plan to collect for the 2020 Census as well as the American Community Survey (ACS). The Census Bureau needs to send this information to Congress before April 1, 2017. They clearly met that deadline. But, there is a draft executive order “Executive Order on Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs,” that would have the Census Bureau add a citizenship question to the Census. This information is already asked in the ACS – so it is not difficult for the Census Bureau to provide annual numbers on the size and composition of the foreign born population (citizen or not) x welfare use. So will Congress and/or Trump insist on changes between now and a year from now, when the exact wording of the questions has to be presented?

The Census Bureau has never wanted to collect immigration status data on the Census as they feel it would lower the response rate of non-citizens, particularly those without papers. This was true in the past and is certainly would be the case now.

Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey
Census Bureau
March 28, 2017

White House proposal to ask immigration status in Census could have chilling effect, experts say
Tara Bahrampour | Washington Post
February 1, 2017

Annual questionnaires from the Census Bureau already ask whether respondents are citizens. But probing into the status of those who are not would be new, and Census experts say it would have a detrimental effect on future counts.

“It will drive the response rate down enormously,” said Kenneth Prewitt, a former director of the Census Bureau who is now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University. Immigrants here illegally are unlikely to answer questions about their status, he said, adding that the resulting undercount could have chilling effects.

“If you drive those people out of the Census, the consequence is that they’re not in it,” he said. “It’s a step toward not counting the people you don’t want to count. And that goes very far in redrawing legislative boundaries.”

Release Of Possible Topics For 2020 Census Raises Concerns
Hansi Lo Wang | NPR
March 28, 2017

WANG: Kenneth Prewitt is a former director of the Census Bureau who served under the Clinton administration. He’s concerned that the immigration debate could determine the questions asked on the census.

KENNETH PREWITT: I think that would set up a huge partisan argument. And the census would be stuck in the middle of that.

WANG: Prewitt adds that besides politics, the bureau is also dealing with uncertain funding from Congress. And that means the bureau may have to scrap more trial tests of its methods, plus follow-up visits to people who don’t respond immediately to its questionnaires.

PREWITT: That means we will not have a very good census. And not having a good census means that we have an undercount. And the undercount will vary by region and by grouping.

History of Human Development in 5 Charts

Our World In Data put together 5 charts which show how global living conditions have changed over the last two centuries. The topics include poverty, literacy, health, freedom, fertility, and education.

H/T Urban Demographics

More apportionment fun

The Census Bureau just released its 2016 Population Estimates. Let’s take a peek at what the Electoral College might look like in 2020 using the PSC Apportionment calculator. The easiest calculation is to just put the 2016 estimates into the calculator (remember to delete Washington, DC). In that scenario:

The losers: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania
The winners: Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas

If we take the 2010 to 2016 growth rate and extend it to 2020, this is the scenario:

Losers: Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia
Winners: Arizona, Colorado, Florida (2), North Carolina, Oregon, Texas (3)

Notable in this scenario is Rhode Island losing an electoral seat. It is just slightly larger than Montana – 1,056,426 vs 1,042,520. But, Rhode Island has had an extra seat since 1990 when Montana lost 1 seat in the House of Representatives. Montana is on the cusp of getting that 2nd representative in the House – it just needs ~5,000 more people than our 2020 projection, which is not an unrealistic scenario.

One thing that is unrealistic about the previous scenario is the fast growth of North Dakota during this period. North Dakota has been the fastest growing state for the past 4 years, but its growth rate dropped to 37th fastest in 2016 due to the collapse of oil prices and thus the fracking industry. Thus, a more realistic estimate might be to use the 2015-2016 rate for the last 4 years of the decade. In that scenario, the results are exactly the same, except that now Montana needs only 550 more people to gain a 2nd seat in the House of Representatives.

Resources
Vintage Population Estimates (2016)
http://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/tables.html
State Population Estimates (2016)
http://www.census.gov/data/tables/2016/demo/popest/state-total.html
PSC Apportionment Calculator
Representations apportioned to each state (1790 to 2010)
Congressional Apportionment Resource

Mapping Megaregions via ACS commuting data

Two researchers have created a map of megaregions in the US based on commuting data from the American Community Survey (ACS). The results are covered in both the popular press and in PLOS One. The latter provides more details about how they constructed the maps – it wasn’t just via a mapping program.

How 4 Million Commutes Shape America’s ‘Megaregions’
Laura Bliss | Atlantic: City Lab
December 7, 2016

An Economic Geography of the United States: From Commutes to Megaregions
Garrett Nelson and Alisdair Rae
PLOS One
November 30, 2016

If you are so inclined the authors have made their data available for replication via Figshare.

[Additional Media Coverage]

What Immigration Means to the U.S. Workforce

Ben Casselman writes in FiveThirtyEight about the ways immigrants help to keep the U.S. population young and keeps the labor force participation at a relatively high rate: Immigrants Are Keeping America Young — And the Economy Growing

White House suggests adding Middle Eastern & North African race category to Census

If approved, the new category would appear on the 2020 Census and could have far-reaching implications for racial identity, anti-discrimination laws and health research. Currently, people from the Middle East are categorized as white: this was the result of a ruling a century ago in which Syrian Americans argued against being in the Asian category and therefore denied citizenship under the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Read more from USA Today: White House wants to add new racial category for Middle Eastern people.

Student Diversity at Postsecondary Institutions

The Chronicle of Education has gathered race and ethnicity information on more than 4,600 postsecondary institutions, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools and presented it in a searchable and sortable table. Note that the search function is very basic: searching for “Michigan” turns up only schools which start with Michigan (e.g. Michigan State U.), and searching for “University of Michigan” gives no results since it is listed as U. of Michigan. Results can be filtered by state.

H/T Flowing Data

Data Sleuths at the Census Bureau

The Census Bureau gathered data on fertility by asking a “children ever born” question from 1940 to 1990 in the decennial census. The 2000 Census did not ask a fertility question at all. With the advent of the American Community Survey, fertility was covered but with a different question. It asked if a woman had given birth to a child in the past year. This allows researchers to compute a total fertility rate. It performs reasonably well against the measure produced from the vital statistics system. And, given that geography is not readily available with the natality detail files anymore, this is a welcome solution. The main drawback to the ACS question is that the reference year will not span the calendar year that the vital statistics system is based on. Only the December respondents are referencing a January to December calendar year. See the Background section below for a further discussion of this.

However, recently, the Census Bureau noticed some anomalies in the data for selected areas and determined that some interviewers had been sloppy and asked “Have you given birth” rather than “Have you given birth in the last year.” Many more women will answer yes to the former and inflate the numerator. This is a good illustration of how much effort the Census Bureau goes to for producing accurate and robust statistics.

Data Sleuthing
Addressing Data Collection Errors in the Fertility Question in the American Community Survey
Tavia Simmons | Census Bureau
August 2016

In recent years, a few geographic areas in the American Community Survey (ACS) data had unusually high percentages of women reported as giving birth in the past year, quite unlike what was seen in previous years for those areas. This paper describes the issue that was discovered, and the measures taken to address it.

Background
Indicators of Marriage and Fertility in the United States from the American Community Survey: 2000 to 2004
T. Johnson and J. Dye | Census Bureau
May 2005
[ppt]

Slides 23 to 26 discuss and illustrate how the ACS and Vital Statistics estimates diverge from each other.