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Advancing Equity With Census Bureau Data

November 02, 2021
BY Dr. Ron Jarmin, Acting Director

Earlier this year, President Biden announced a federal agenda to advance equity for all Americans, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. As the nation works toward “a systemic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making processes,” policy makers and the public need quality data about the nation’s people and economy to advance equity. 

Executive Order 13985 defines equity as “the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”

The Census Bureau has an ongoing commitment to producing data that depict an accurate portrait of America, including its underserved communities. We understand firsthand how important this data is: We use it ourselves to better reach hard-to-count populations during the census as part of our goal to count everyone once, only once and in the right place.

Some examples of the wealth of data products we provide include:

  • Data by key demographic variables such as race, ethnicity, sex, disability, income, and veteran status to help measure equity.
  • Data tools that help the public and policymakers understand the issues surrounding inequities and enable them to propose effective, data-based solutions.
  • Among other uses, Census Bureau data can provide metrics to show assistance programs’ progress and outcomes.

You can find Census Bureau tools for racial, ethnic, and gender outcomes, business and employment, and assessing disparate impacts on our Data for Equity webpage.

Communicating with Stakeholders

Another major part of our mission is to educate the public, policymakers, and other stakeholders on what data we have available and how to use them. We want to empower data users with understandable, accurate, and timely information.

We also work to foster two-way communication on data usability, data user needs and operational issues. One way we do that is through the Census Information Centers, a network of national and community-based organizations such as colleges and universities, research groups, minority chambers of commerce, tribal governments, and civil rights organizations serving children, the aging and rural populations. Their mission is to provide efficient access to Census Bureau data products to underserved population groups in easily understandable formats. We also work extensively with stakeholders through other initiatives such as Census Open Innovation Labs, State Data Centers and the Office of Strategic Alliances.

Measuring Diversity

Another key aspect of data equity is ensuring that our data is an accurate reflection of America. As a statistical agency, we continuously work to improve how we measure the diversity of the American people. This work includes:

  • Researching strategies for improving respondent understanding of questions we ask and the accuracy of the data we produce.
  • Discussing our research and findings with stakeholder groups.
  • Working with the federal statistical system to improve how we measure demographic characteristics. For example, Census Bureau researchers work with colleagues from other statistical agencies and the Office of Management and Budget to explore options for improving federal data on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. 

Census Bureau data can assist federal agencies and others in equitably distributing resources and identifying underserved communities, including rural places. We are proud to provide data that can be used by policymakers and the public to advance equity for all Americans.

 

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