Was Georgia undercounted in the 2020 Census?

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The 2020 U.S. Census undercounted Georgia’s population by an estimated 124,438, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit think tank Urban Institute reported Tuesday.

Only four more populous states – Texas, California, New York and Florida – experienced higher undercounts than Georgia.

While census figures compiled every 10 years are never completely accurate, the Urban Institute found the 2020 Census likely was less accurate than the 2010 population count for a variety of reasons.

The report cited the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on getting accurate counts as well as the politicization of the process.

Then-President Donald Trump attempted to add a citizenship question to the census long sought by opponents of illegal immigration. Although the effort failed, the proposal likely acted as a disincentive for some immigrants to fill out census forms.

As has occurred in the past, minorities including Blacks and Hispanics were disproportionately undercounted, the report found. What was different in 2020 was the growth in those minority populations since 2010.

“Traditionally hard-to-count groups increased as a share of the population,” the report stated. “Pre-census funding shortfalls at key times limited the testing of new census procedures, and late disputes over census content exacerbated uncertainty.

“Then the pandemic affected living arrangements, complicated in-person follow-up counts, and delayed post-enumeration data cleaning and other processes.”

Overall, the U.S. population of 331.4 million reported in the 2020 Census was undercounted by nearly 1.7 million, or 0.51%, the Urban Institute found.

The 10.7 million Georgians listed in the census represented an undercount of 1.15%, according to the report.

Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, only 14 states were overcounted. The largest overcounts occurred in three states in the upper Midwest: Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The census is used not only to apportion congressional representation among the 50 states and to redraw the boundaries of state legislative districts, a process Georgia’s General Assembly will begin during a special session starting Wednesday.

Census numbers also affect the allocation of federal funding across the states.

This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.