Way back in 2019, which now seems like eons ago, I wrote a column for Vox about the importance of the upcoming 2020 Census. It started off like this: “For demographers like me, the census is kind of like our Super Bowl, if the Super Bowl only took place once a decade — and if the foundation of your representative democracy hinged on the winner of the game.”
The 2020 Census kicked off its nationwide efforts to count every person in the United States during the second week of March 2020. If that week rings a bell, it’s because it’s also the week that many of us – Carolina Demography included – started working remotely as the pandemic ravaged the world around us and everything drastically changed overnight.
So much of our lives and our livelihoods depend on a deeper understanding of data and underlying population dynamics. Nowhere was that more evident than throughout 2020, as we all struggled to make sense of the stream of data around COVID-19 and the 2020 election.
The core mission of Carolina Demography is to provide accurate and specific information about demographic change in North Carolina and interpret what those changes mean for our communities. This work took on new dimensions in 2020 as we worked with partners across North Carolina to better understand:
And still, 2020 will reverberate in our work for years to come. Dozens of data products have been impacted by this pandemic. Some data streams have been temporarily disrupted, leaving a gap in our knowledge. Release of other data has been delayed, meaning we will not know the impact of 2020 for some time.
This report looks at the work we accomplished in 2020 and the questions we answered alongside many of you. We’re looking forward to continuing these efforts, and to work that much harder to answer the ongoing question: “Where is North Carolina headed?”
Rebecca Tippett, PhD
Director of Carolina Demography
Carolina Population Center, UNC Chapel Hill