October 14, 2020 -- As the presidents of the Population Association of America (PAA) and the Association of Population Centers (APC), which together represent over 3,000 population scientists (i.e. demographers, economists, and sociologists), in the private, public, and academic sectors, we are disheartened by yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling which has hastened an abrupt end to the 2020 Census enumeration.
Population scientists rely on decennial census data to conduct their research and research training activities. Census data are the seminal source of data informing the breadth of these population research activities. Therefore, population scientists are heavily vested in the 2020 Census, recognizing that its outcome has massive repercussions for not only our field, but also for our nation’s governance and the distribution of over $1 trillion in federal funding annually.
Our organizations supported the Trump Administration’s initial, responsible proposals, as a result of the ongoing pandemic, to extend 2020 Census field operations and to defer the statutorily required reporting deadlines for delivering apportionment data to Congress and redistricting data to the states. Similarly, we strongly opposed the Administration’s subsequent decision to reverse course by announcing plans to conclude data collection a month early and force the delivery of apportionment data by December 31, 2020. The Administration’s decision compelled career professionals at the Census Bureau to end counting operations prematurely and curtail key data quality control operations—actions that could ultimately jeopardize the accuracy, quality, and legitimacy of the 2020 Census.
In light of the Court’s ruling, PAA and APC urge Congress to immediately pass the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, which would authorize an extension of the 2020 Census statutorily required deadlines and give the Census Bureau time to achieve an accurate, inclusive count and deliver reliable apportionment and redistricting data. In addition, we urge Congress to strongly exercise its oversight authority of the 2020 Census and to carefully evaluate its outcome, drawing from independent experts whose recommendations are embodied in the recently released 2020 Census Quality Indicators report.
There is still an opportunity to restore credibility to the 2020 Census. It should not be squandered.
Dr. Eileen Crimmins, PAA President
Dr. Kathleen A. Cagney, APC President