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March 2020 updates for the Census 2020 Hard to Count map



The Census Bureau is poised to send out its 2020 Census mailings to households across the country.  Once households start responding to these mailings (or hand-delivered packets in some areas) by filling out the census form online, by phone, or mail, the Bureau will be publishing daily "self-response" rates for each community, city, county, and state.

We're preparing for this new data by launching a major update to the HTC 2020 map. Starting today the map will display by default the 2010 self-response rates across the country by state, county, and census tract.  After March 20, the map will display the latest response rates from the 2020 census count, which we'll update daily. All the other information that we've included on the HTC map is still there! But the self-response rates are now a higher priority, and the map reflects that. See the new map view below.

The map displays self-response rates from 2010 so you can see how well your area did in the last census. This mirrors the Census Bureau's new Response Rate Map. When you click on or search the HTC 2020 map, we also show the response rates from 2000 to provide historical context. Demographics and census operations have changed since then, but the response rates are the response rates. The rates from 2000 and 2010 measure how well the households in a given area responded during those censuses. Now, current residents of those areas — regardless of how your community may have changed or how each census was conducted — will see how your community did in 2010 (and 2000) and can use those data points as an inspiration to do better in 2020.

(Confused about response rates vs other measures of self-response? We explain the differences at the Center for Urban Research website, along with an analysis of self-response rate trends.)

Here's how the map displays the rates for Albany County, NY and surrounding counties:

And here's what it looks like for a tract in Chicago:

Note the bar charts in the left-hand panel next to the map.  For now the charts display response rates from 2010 & 2000, and the "2020 bar" is blank. When the Census Bureau starts publishing the 2020 rates, we'll update our map every day so that "2020 bar" will start to rise. How quickly and how far it rises is up to local census stakeholders! You'll be able to check back at our map daily to see the trend. At the end of April you'll be able to see if you've surpassed the 2010 rate.

REMEMBER: if your area has a low self-response rate, it means:

  • more census enumerators will be knocking on doors to count residents in-person (starting in May); and
  • it's more likely people in your area may be missed or counted inaccurately.

Other map updates

Census Hotlines

New map features

  • Now that we've mapped self-response rates, we've added a "transparency" control on the map so you can see the map details "underneath" the response rate color-shading. See the screenshot at the right.  When you move the "blue button" to the left, the color-shading becomes transparent, & when you move it to the right it becomes opaque.
  • Thanks to Mapbox, when you zoom in on the HTC map, you'll see "points of interest", buildings, and streets shown on the map. These mapped details can help provide local references for Get Out the Count outreach.
  • Mapbox provides the basemap layers that power the HTC map on a pro bono basis to help support a fair and accurate 2020 Census count.

Links to earlier updates

The HTC 2020 map is a work in progress. Other recent updates and enhancements are described here:

  • February 2020: New data on the risk of undercounting young children, in collaboration with the Population Reference Bureau. For more info, visit PRB's website.
  • January 2020: To help promote the official start of the 2020 Census in Alaska, we added a special "It Starts Here" (in Toksook Bay, AK) graphic on the map. Updates in January also included new 2014-2018 population estimates for tracts, counties, states, and legislative districts, and more.
  • December 2019: New advanced tract search feature, statewide maps of Census Bureau contact strategies, and more.
  • November 2019: Comprehensive information for all 2020 Census contact techniques combined in one place at the HTC 2020 map, so census stakeholders can more easily inform local residents about what to expect when the 2020 decennial census takes place. Also see the CUNY Center for Urban Research website for a state-by-state analysis.
  • October 2019: Updates to TEA designations; the latest examples of groups using the HTC map across the country; enhancing the HTC metrics with the Census Bureau's "low response score", the Urban Institute's projections of undercount by state; & more.
  • August 2019: In-Field Address Canvassing areas & stats on the map; organizations that are using the HTC map for local grant assistance; new examples of linking to and/or embedding the HTC map.
  • July 2019: new feature to highlight tracts based on share of households without internet access; a list of other census maps nationwide, and more.
  • June 2019: Census contacts by state/county; census tract search feature.
  • April 2019: customized printing, data downloads, and more.
  • March 2019: mapping Type of Enumeration Areas (TEA) and Area Census Offices (ACOs)
  • January 2019: new ACS data for the 2013-17 period (including internet access), new legislative info, public library locations, and tribal lands added to the map.

If you haven't signed up for our HTC 2020 map updates, please do so here.

We look forward to hearing your suggestions for improving the map. Please contact the Mapping Service at the CUNY Graduate Center with your feedback.


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Copyright © 2020 Center for Urban Research / CUNY Graduate Center, All rights reserved.

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