Akee on Concerns About a Census Undercount of Native Americans

In a U.S. News and World Report article, Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee expressed concern about the way U.S. Census formulas count Native American communities. The 2020 census count closed on Oct. 15, two weeks earlier than the COVID-adjusted deadline of Oct. 31. Many experts are concerned that the early closure will exacerbate undercounting of Native American communities, which rely on a complete and accurate census count for federal funding and proportionate representation in voting districts. In 2010, Native Americans living on reservations were undercounted by 4.9%, more than twice the rate of other racial minorities. Over the last year, the Census Bureau has been tinkering with its formula, which aims to provide accurate data and protect individual privacy but also increases the risk of undercounting small populations. Akee explained that, despite improvements to the way the bureau handles Native American communities, concern remains. “I take them at their word that they’re really trying to remedy the problem,” he concluded.

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