By: Mallory Bateman
With the start of April, the countdown has begun to the initial statistical release of apportionment data from the Census Bureau by April 30. This release includes a total population number for each state, which is the basis for allocating congressional seats each state receives in Washington, D.C. While in a traditional year without the impacts of a global pandemic this data would have been released this past December, COVID-19 created hurdles in data collection and analysis, requiring an extended deadline.
Although we still have several weeks before the release, the Census Bureau has created an interactive apportionment map currently populated with historic decennial data. The new data will be added to the visualization when it becomes available.
Delays to the first statistical data release also translate into delayed subsequent releases. The redistricting data, typically received by states in April of the year following the decennial, has been delayed to a full public release on data.census.gov by September 30. Due to ongoing litigation, the Census Bureau will issue a “legacy” format (less user-friendly format) in mid-to-late August. The redistricting data is used for states’ internal redistricting processes and provides a view into the population’s race and ethnicity for groups over and under age 18 for both statistical and legal geographic boundaries.
So what does all this mean for the long-term population projections produced by the Gardner Institute? Internally, we are working on fine-tuning our processes and inputs to ensure that when we get the data, we can move as quickly as possible to get a picture of what the state could look like in 50 years out to communities and decision-makers. That being said, the redistricting data is a critical input to our population projections. In a typical year, our publication date would be July 1 of this year. However, due to these data delays outside our control, our new projected publication date will be late 2021.
Until then, stay tuned for additional insights into the 2020 data.
Mallory Bateman is a senior research associate and Utah State Data Center coordinator at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.