Urban Count in Census Lagging Again — So Far

By Kai Wright Apr 02, 2010

If you live in a big city, particularly in a neighborhood full of people of color, you’ve likely been bombarded with Census advertising in recent weeks. Here’s why: Washington has spent a record $14 billion over the past decade in an effort to finally accurately count urban areas. So far, the results are mixed. As of today, a familiar pattern had emerged. Small, white-dominated counties in the Plains and the Midwest were leading the way in share of households that had mailed in their Census questionnaires. Green township, Ohio, leads the nation with a 72 percent response rate. Sioux Falls city, S.D., is at 66 percent. Meanwhile, just a third of Brooklynites have replied; 26 percent in my neighborhood (really, y’all?). Cook County, which overlaps with Chicago, and Los Angeles County are both doing better at roughly 50 percent. The Census Bureau has a fun interactive map here, where you can check out response rates and drill all the way down to the neighborhood-level. Next month Census workers will start going door-to-door to follow up. That’s when we’ll really find out how much progress the bureau has made in fixing the chronic urban undercount.