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 an analysis by a think tank that did computer simulations of the nation’s head count. The analysis, done by the Urban Institute and 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% undercount of the nation’s population during the 2020 census. If that modeled estimate holds true, it would be greater than the 0.01% undercount in the 2010 census but in the same range as the 0.49% 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.