By on 1.14.22 in Census 2020

The 2020 census is a point-in-time count of all individuals living in the United States on April 1, 2020. As part of ensuring complete and accurate data, the Census Bureau gives communities the opportunity to request a review of their census count. This process, known as the Census Count Question Resolution (CQR) program, began on January 3, 2022.

CQR is limited in its scope. Notably, it does not address potential omissions in the 2020 Census. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau faced unique challenges to collecting data on populations living in group quarters facilities during the census.

To address these issues, the Bureau has proposed a new program to deal with these omissions, known as the 2020 Post-Census Group Quarters Review (PCGQR). Comments on this Federal Register Notice are due by January 18, 2022.

What are Group Quarters?

The Bureau has a number of special operations to count individuals who do not live in households. The Group Quarters enumeration counts people in group living facilities. This includes individuals in institutional facilities, such as jails, prisons, and nursing homes, as well as non-institutional facilities such as dormitories and military barracks.

How will the Post-Census Group Quarters Review work?

We don’t know the exact specifications of the program yet. Right now, PCGQR is a proposed program and the Census Bureau is soliciting comments. For example, we don’t yet know:

  • The types of group-quarters that are in-scope for PCGQR: will the Bureau consider potential omissions in off-campus housing associated with colleges and universities?
  • Whether PCGQR will resolve questions or concerns about population characteristics, such as racial compositions that do not match known characteristics.

What we do know is that successful outcomes:

  • Don’t affect census reapportionment and redistricting data
  • Do affect the annual population estimates base
  • Are applied retroactively, meaning they will update estimates for previous time points

How can I make a comment on the Federal Register Notice?

Comments to the current Federal Register Notice are due January 18, 2022. Individuals interested in making a comment should consider guidance provided by the Census Quality Reinforcement Task Force and encourage the Bureau to:

  • Include all group quarters types, based on the availability of official administrative records
  • Release the number of GQ facilities by type at the block level
  • Include off-campus housing in scope of program
  • Include potential for revisions of characteristics as well as counts

How can I identify potential group quarters irregularities in my community?

  1. Visit https://data.census.gov and type in “Group Quarters” in the search bar
  2. Select “P5: Group Quarters Population by Major Group Quarters Type”1. Visit https://data.census.gov and type in “Group Quarters” in the search bar 2. Select “P5: Group Quarters Population by Major Group Quarters Type”
  3. Use the filters on the left-hand side to find your geography of interest
  4. Once you have chosen a location, you should be able to compare 2020 and 2010 (note: the 2010 table is P42: Group Quarters Population by Group Quarters Type)
  5. Identify any irregularities from 2010 to 2020
  6. Gather local records and documentation on group quarters facilities

For example, I looked at Tyrrell County in North Carolina, which had a change from 626 individuals living in correctional facilities for adults in 2010 to 0 in 2020. Is this an omission? A search for local news stories reveals that no, it is not; instead, a federal prison work farm closed in late 2019 and the 2020 Census numbers accurately reflected this closure.

Find something you think is a potential issue? We’re trying to develop a running list, so please share your findings with us at demography@unc.edu


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