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Earlier this month, the Census Bureau released the 2020 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File. These are the first detailed results from the 2020 Census that include demographic characteristics and population counts for numerous areas. Among many other uses, states may choose to use the redistricting data on race, Hispanic origin, and the voting-age population to redraw the boundaries of their congressional and state legislative districts.
As data users dive into these files, it is important to consider the quality of the data. This year, we have provided information on the 2020 Census in the form of operational quality metrics, which look at various factors such as how we obtained a response for each address. The operational quality metrics have been released for the nation and for each state.
Today we are releasing another indicator – the 2020 Census item nonresponse rates for the population count, age or date of birth, race, and Hispanic origin questions – characteristics present in the redistricting data.
There are two basic types of nonresponse in censuses and surveys.
We calculate item nonresponse rates before we use the statistical techniques of editing and characteristic imputation to fill in the missing information. When calculating the rate, we do not take into consideration the validity of a response. For example, if a respondent checks multiple boxes for the relationship question, we edit that response in post-processing but we do not consider it a missing response.
The metrics are available in a downloadable table. The numbers from today’s release (as well as all previously released operational quality metrics) are also available on the 2020 Census Data Quality webpage.
The 2020 Census item nonresponse rates for each of the redistricting data items (population count, age or date of birth, race, and Hispanic origin) are available for the nation and for each state. Corresponding item nonresponse rates from the 2010 Census are also provided.
In addition, as we know from past research there are response mode differences. So we have calculated the item nonresponse rates for these questions by census operation:
Lastly, for each of these census operations we are reporting the percentage of responses that provided only a population count (and no other data).
Here are a few takeaways:
Putting this all together, we know there is a range in the magnitude of item nonresponse rates across data collection operations. Some of the results (for instance, with NRFU proxy enumerations or from group quarters) are not particularly surprising but point to areas that we are studying closely as we design the 2030 Census. But the vast majority of the nation’s households provided high-quality data and answered most of the census questions.
As part of the 2020 Census Evaluations and Experiments (EAE) program, we’re set to release the Item Nonresponse and Imputation Assessment report next summer. The report will contain comprehensive results on item nonresponse, including metrics for all data items available today plus household tenure (owned or rented), sex and relationship, as well as detailed imputation and substitution rates.
Throughout this year, we have been sharing as much information as we can about the 2020 Census results. As a reminder, some of the other ways that we are measuring the quality of the 2020 Census include:
The Census Bureau is committed to sharing what we know, when we know it, to help the nation understand the quality of the 2020 Census results. We will continue to update the 2020 Census Data Quality webpage as new information becomes available.