The U.S. Census Bureau is packing up early, amid concerns that the agency is being pressured by the White House to cut data collection short.
According to CNN, the bureau announced Monday that it would be ending its field data collection a month early, wrapping up Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31. In order to be counted in the 2020 census, households must complete the survey by then.
The move concerns activists and reporters, who worry that underprivileged communities will not be counted and the census will fail to provide an accurate number for apportioning congressional representation and funding. This will especially harm groups that are already underrepresented. According to the L.A. Times, nearly 40 percent of U.S. households are still uncounted for.
Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said the agency will end data collection early in an effort to "accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts" due by Dec. 31 under federal law.
“We will improve the speed of our count without sacrificing completeness,” he said in the statement. “Under this plan, the Census Bureau intends to meet a similar level of household responses as collected in prior censuses, including outreach to hard-to-count communities.”
The bureau is also ending its door-knocking campaign by Sept. 30, in an effort to reduce risk of COVID-19 spread. "The Census Bureau's new plan reflects our continued commitment to conduct a complete count, provide accurate apportionment data, and protect the health and safety of the public and our workforce," Dillingham said.
Some are accusing the Trump Administration of meddling in the census for political gain, as it has in the past. As CNN points out, the increasingly digital methods of data collection can fail to serve minority communities, students, seniors in assisted living facilities and people experiencing homelessness. Former Census directors and activists have asked Congress to push back the deadline for the 2020 Census, due to the pandemic.
These numbers help the government decide how much money should go into schools, roads, and other resources in your community. Fill out the census here.