Ong Foresees Rippling Effect of Census Undercount

Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin, spoke to USA Today about low response rates to the census in low-income and minority neighborhoods. The COVID-19 pandemic, lack of internet access and a timeline that was shortened by the U.S. Census Bureau have made it more difficult to get accurate population counts in hard-to-reach neighborhoods. “My biggest fear, and my estimate, is that we’re headed towards an extremely flawed census,” Ong said. While the Census Bureau has assured that it will be able to close the gap on undercounted populations, Ong said he would like to see evidence that confirms the reliability of these efforts. Census results are used to distribute congressional seats and federal funding, so undercounting can take a significant toll on a community. “The large and growing racial and income differences have a rippling effect downstream for other operations, creating more challenges and hurdles,” Ong concluded.

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