Count on Me?: Explore the Effect of COVID-19 City Out-Migration on the 2020 Census: A Case Study on New York City
The United States’ decennial census is the gold standard for enumerating the country’s population. Its data are used by private developers as well as federal and state governments to efficiently allocate federal resources, determine Congressional representation, and provide access to public safety and emergency preparedness (Why We Conduct the Decennial Census). Historically, the census has seen the lowest response rates from low-income populations, communities of color, foreign-born populations, and children (O’hare, 2019). However, early reports on the 2020 Census uncovered that in major metropolitan cities, notably in New York City, these may not be the only undercounted groups. Historically high-income, predominantly white communities also faced a low voluntary self-response rate (Rubinstein, 2020; Kim, 2020). This phenomenon aligns with recent internal migration trends during the COVID-19 pandemic; one in five U.S. adults relocated or knew someone who had during the pandemic, with most of these adults ranging from ages 18-29 years old (Cohn, 2020).