Urban Institute: 2020 census undercounted Georgia’s population by 124,438

The number includes 58,098 people in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell region, report says

The 2020 census undercounted Georgia’s population by just over 1%, or 124,438 people, including 58,098 in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell region, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Urban Institute, a left-leaning nonprofit research organization.

Based on census data and computer modeling, those estimates reflect a slight overcount of white residents as well as undercounts of traditionally hard-to-count populations: 5.6% for children younger than 5; 2.7% for Black people; 2.85% for Hispanics; and 3.6% for people living in households containing at least one noncitizen.

The decennial head count helps government officials decide where to send hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds and how to redraw state and congressional legislative districts. Even if its population were fully counted, Georgia would not gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but it would gain $47.3 million in Medicaid reimbursement funds this year, according to the institute.

The institute projected the 2020 census undercounted the nation’s population by half a percent. In contrast, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated a .01% overcount for its 2010 census, a .49% overcount in 2000 and a 1.61% undercount in 1990.

Several factors could have affected the census last year, according to the institute, including the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters, the politicization of the count and the Trump administration’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question.

“No census is ever perfect,” Diana Elliott, one of the co-authors of the institute’s report, told reporters Tuesday. “Each decennial census has encountered challenges along the way. Yet, the 2020 census was conducted amidst unprecedented challenges.”

Georgia’s projected undercount is not as bad as the institute projected in 2019, when it estimated as many as 177,000 people could be missed in the Peach State, or nearly 2%.

Two other recent studies have projected undercounts among minorities and children in the 2020 census.

One report by the former head of the Kids Count project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation estimated 2.1% of children were undercounted, up from 1.7% in the 2010 census. An analysis by a senior scholar with the Committee on National Statistics at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine calculated an undercount of between 3.24% and 7.25% for Black people, compared to 2.3% for the 2010 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday it is planning to release more information about the quality of the 2020 census next year.

“The U.S. Census Bureau recognizes the importance of accuracy for the 2020 Census,” the bureau said in a statement. “This is a very important topic.”

National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial told the Associated Press he blames the Trump administration, which also tried to end the count early.

“This isn’t simply an unfortunate accident,” Morial told the AP. “It’s the result of a deliberate campaign of sabotage intended to steer political influence and public resources away from communities of color.”