Texas Leads U.S. in Uncounted From 2020 Census With 377K, Simulation Shows

The Texas population was undercounted by 1.28 percent, or more than 377,000 people, in the 2020 census, according to computer simulations created by the Urban Institute, the Associated Press reported.

While the Census Bureau won't release its official undercount or overcount until next year, the estimated undercount in the state is the highest in the country and makes up about a fifth of total U.S. residents who were seemingly not included in the once-a-decade count.

The size of the Texas' simulated undercount could have real-life repercussions, including potentially missing out on $247 million in 2021 federal Medicaid reimbursements, according to the Urban Institute.

While Texas had the highest estimated undercount in number, Mississippi had the highest in percentage at 1.3 percent. Among the 20 largest metro areas in the U.S., Miami ranked the highest in undercount at 1.7 percent, AP reported.

Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota were estimated to have population overcounts in the simulation.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Census Workers
Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire and Wisconsin were estimated to have population overcounts in the 2020 census. Above, U.S. Census workers stand outside Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on September 24, 2020, in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images

The 2020 census missed an estimated 1.6 million people, but given hurdles posed by the pandemic and natural disasters, the undercount was smaller than expected, according to the Urban Institute.

The analysis, released Tuesday, found that people of color, renters, noncitizens, children and people living in Texas—the state that saw the nation's largest growth—were most likely to be missed, though by smaller margins than some had projected for a count conducted in the midst of a global pandemic. Still, those shortfalls could affect the drawing of political districts and distribution of federal spending.

The analysis estimates there was a 0.5 percent undercount of the nation's population during the 2020 census. If that modeled estimate holds true, it would be greater than the 0.01 percent undercount in the 2010 census but in the same range as the 0.49 percent undercount in the 2000 census.

The 2020 head count of the nation's 331 million residents last year faced unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires in the West, hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and attempts at politicization by the Trump administration. The census is used to determine how many congressional seats each state gets, provides the data used for drawing political districts and helps determine the allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year.

"The fact that the undercount wasn't larger is surprising and certainly a good news story," said Diana Elliott, principal research associate at the Urban Institute. "This undercount suggests the 2020 census may not be as close in accuracy as 2010, but it may not be as dire as some had feared."

The Census Bureau's post-enumeration survey measures the accuracy of the census by independently surveying a sample of the population and estimating how many people and housing units were missed or counted erroneously.

The Urban Institute created computer simulations that modeled the count by demographic characteristics and geography. Despite the smaller-than-expected national undercount, it showed wide ranges based on race, ethnic background, age and among U.S. states and metro areas.

In 2020, Black and Hispanic people had net undercounts of more than 2.45 percent and 2.17 percent, respectively, according to the Urban Institute estimates, while they were respectively 2.07 percent and 1.54 percent in 2010.

There was an overcount of white residents by 0.39 percent, according to the Urban Institute, and undercounts of Asians, Native Americans and Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders by 0.6 percent, 0.36 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

By comparison, 2010 had an overcount of white people by 0.84 percent. In 2010, there were undercounts of Asians by 0.08 percent and Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders by 1.34 percent. Native Americans on reservations were undercounted by 4.88 percent in 2010, but those off reservations were overcounted by 1.95 percent. Children under age 5 were undercounted by 4.86 percent, households with noncitizens by 3.36 percent and renters by 2.13 percent in 2020, according to the Urban Institute,

One of the nation's leading civil rights organizations, the National Urban League—not to be confused with the Urban Institute—said recently that an undercount of Black residents could rob African American communities of billions of dollars in federal funding and three congressional seats. National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial blamed the Trump administration, which attempted but failed to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form and tried to end the head count early.

The National Urban League has called for congressional hearings to look into the extent of political interference in the 2020 census.

"This isn't simply an unfortunate accident," Morial said. "It's the result of a deliberate campaign of sabotage intended to steer political influence and public resources away from communities of color."

President Joe Biden's choice to head the Census Bureau, Robert Santos, was chief methodologist at the Urban Institute before his nomination last spring. He played an advisory role on the project, Elliott said.

Texas Census Undercount
The Texas population was undercounted by 1.28 percent, or more than 377,000 people, in the 2020 census, according to computer simulations created by the Urban Institute. John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP

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