Sunday, June 12, 2022

Bill Crawford: Even Census Follow-Up Numbers are Uncertain

 Listen to ruling Republicans, their aligned talking heads, and even some media and you would be certain Mississippi suffered a significant undercount in the recent 2020 Census.

But, census numbers, even follow-up numbers, don’t work to that degree of certainty.

In general, the Census Bureau reports basic data at an estimated 90% confidence level. When a higher level of confidence is sought, it uses statistical conversion factors to adjust its estimates. 

The constitutionally required decennial census attempts to count every person. For first time for the 2020 Census, the Bureau made the Internet the primary self-reporting vehicle (along with conventional counting methods). People got postcards telling them how to register and enter data. There were also social media posts and extensive advertising. In addition, states established Complete Count Committees to support census activities.

In March, the Census Bureau issued its “2020 Post-Enumeration Survey Estimation Report” wherein it compared the census count with other demographic estimates and a follow-up sample survey. The report concluded that 94.4% of the population had been correctly counted, 2.8% were counted erroneously, 2.8% were counted but had to have their demographic data imputed, and 0.6% had to have their data fully imputed.

The Census Bureau further estimated the population estimates for 36 states were pretty much on target, for 8 states were too high, and for 6 states were too low. 

Mississippi was one of those six states with estimated undercounts. Notably, Mississippi’s miss came in at -4.11%, albeit with a 90% confidence level that the error was somewhere between -1.43% and -6.79%. Another chart showed Mississippi’s “dual system enumeration” rate was 90.1% with “omissions” at 9.9%.

What all that means after imputation, estimation, and adjustment is the certainty that Mississippi’s census numbers were right or wrong and to what degree are uncertain.

(Want to dig deeper? Google 2020 Post-Enumeration Survey.)

It’s not like Mississippi didn’t try to get the count right.

On August 7, 2019, Gov. Phil Bryant issued an executive order establishing a Complete Count Committee for Mississippi. He charged the 25-member committee, chaired by Sen. Giles Ward, to accomplish the following duties to ensure an accurate count in Mississippi: a) Advise the Governor and the Mississippi Legislature on census activities in the state; b) Identify barriers that might impede the progress of the 2020 Census in Mississippi; c) Promote and advertise the 2020 Census; d) Respond to residents’ questions and concerns about the census; e) Develop partnerships with regional and local Complete Count Committees to increase participation; f) Distribute and share census information with traditionally hard-to-count areas and populations; and g) Seek to ensure the highest census participation rate possible.

Apparently more needed to get done.

Despite the Census Bureau’s follow-up estimates that Mississippi’s population estimate was low, it will not change Mississippi’s count. And that’s the rest of this problematic story.

“Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.” - 1 Chronicles 21:1-2

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson


Anonymous said...

Attempts to get accurate data regarding Mississippi's population will run into significant obstacles whenever voluntary reporting is requested from the public. Three significant groups: 1. Those who do not cooperate with the federal government on anything, if they can help it. 2. Those who will not attempt to figure out the instructions. 3. Those who cannot figure out the instructions. These people likely make up a larger percentage in Mississippi than elsewhere. Sadly Mississippi needs to be counted more than anybody.

Anonymous said...

I am seventy two years old. I have been counted on only one census in my life. Don't know how many other people have been missed on the census. The last one I noticed one of the people who was supposed to be taking the census spending all of their time at my neighbor's house.

The census us just like everything the government touches. Most of the employees not working and filled with theft.

Anonymous said...

Democrat deflection. The narrative is only how Democrats define it. The population sky is falling remains remains the fear monger until they say otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I completed my census online using the QR code included with my mailer. It took me less than 10 minutes. I am by no means an exceptionally intelligent Mississippian. I just wanted to be counted.

Anonymous said...

Interesting column Crawford, although you didn't really say anything. But of course you had to start with your continued blasting of the Republicans (listen to the Ruling Reublicans....) with a weird relationship that you claim they are aligned with the media. Please tell us what media has ever been aligned with the Republicans in Mississippi. Also, please tell us how you figure that the Democrats have not been making the same statements.

Of course, neither of these are anymore important than your blast at the Republicans who are making the same statement that the US Dept of Commerce has made. But just as every column you have written since the beginning of 2019 when your partners at the MS Hospital Administration put you out front pulling the wagon against Tater, you have reverted back to your 1987 departure from being a republican when you strongly backed your hero Mabus that the rest of us were trying to Savus from. Granted, you tried to come back in 96 and atone for your sins, and were glad to jump back into the trough and slop with the repubs a decade later - at least as long as they were giving you a check. But once you jumped on the ACA train, you seem to blame everything on those damned republicans.

Wonder why you couldn't have just written this piece without the opening sentence and still made the same point.

Anonymous said...

Republicans are concerned because the lower census numbers means less socialist dollars for state government to spend.

Anonymous said...

This state gets more than its fair share of resources and squanders them every time. Hopefully the count was accurate and enough citizens finally moved on to live in better places. Congrats to those who got out.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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