• The deadline for census workers to finish collecting field data was shortened by a month to Sept. 30 even though operations have been delayed by the pandemic
  • Critics accuse the Trump administration of deliberately trying to undercount minorities.
  • Trump has issued an executive order that would exclude undocumented residents from apportionment


The Census Bureau has hired only 155,239 temporary workers to conduct the 2020 Census, far fewer than have been hired to do the population count in the past, figures released Tuesday showed.

Economist and data scientist Daniel Zhao noted in normal times the Census Bureau hires as many as 500,000 workers. In 2010, 711,362 were hired.

The agency released tables indicating 155,239 temporary workers were on the agency payroll for the week ended Aug. 1, partially offsetting the massive layoffs that have ripped through the economy since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March and April. When the count started in early April, 41,301 temporary workers were on the census payroll but that number fell to 23,719 in early May when the nationwide economic lockdown was in full swing.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a census be conducted every 10 years and completed by Dec. 31. The information is used to apportion congressional and legislative districts, as well as distribute of federal aid to state and local governments.

The pandemic forced the Census Bureau to delay some of its operations, and it recently moved up the field deadline for collecting data set in April by a month to Sept. 30, raising fears that significant swaths of the population will be missed, especially in crowded urban areas.

“The now-rushed end date – reportedly to accommodate Trump’s insistence to have reapportionment numbers while he is still in office – places – a huge burden on the [Census] Bureau’s staff. This involves effectively enumerating hard-to-count populations who have not responded to earlier requests, those who have moved during the pandemic, the homeless, residents of dormitories, rural residents, and Native American reservations that have always taken extra efforts to reach,” the Brookings Institution noted.

Critics have accused the Trump administration of deliberately trying to create an undercount to reduce the influence of Democratic-run urban centers, populated by large numbers of immigrant and minority residents.

President Trump last month issued an executive order, which already is under court challenge, excluding undocumented residents from the apportionment base. An analysis by the University of Virginia Center for Politics indicated the order could cost California, New Jersey and Texas one seat each in the House.

An estimated 14.3 million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States, the Federation for American Immigration Reform said. Of the nation’s more than 328 million residents, an estimated 24% belong to minority groups.