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Census Bureau to end counting a month early

Census Bureau to end counting a month early
Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the 2020 Census rollout at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 29. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Census Bureau announced it will end all data collection efforts on Sept. 30, a month earlier than planned.

In a statement on Monday, U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said door-to-door counting efforts and self-response filings would stop by the end of September instead of Oct. 31 in order to accelerate the completion of the decennial tally of every person residing in the country by the statutory deadline of Dec. 31.

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Despite the truncated schedule, Dillingham said through hiring more employees and offering enumerator awards "we will improve the speed or our count without sacrificing completeness."

The bureau, he said, intends to still have a similar level of household responses as previous years.

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"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.

The announcement came as 37% of households have yet to be counted in the tally, according to data from the Census Bureau.

The massive decennial effort is mandated by the Constitution and provides data that determines the number of seats each state is allocated in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the disbursement of federal funds, according to the bureau's website.

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However, this decade's count began on Jan. 21, the same day the United States reported its first case of COVID-19.

The pandemic, which has caused mass shutdowns throughout the country, forced the bureau in April to suspend field data collection and push the deadline from the end of July to Oct. 31.

Last week, the House committee on oversight and reform held an emergency hearing on the 2020 census, partially over reports that the Trump administration was seeking to cut its extended deadline.

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Dillingham refused to comment as to the reason why President Donald Trump would want to compress the schedule, stating, "I am not directly involved with the Hill negotiations on extending the schedule."

Kenneth Prewitt, a former census director, expressed concern in the hearing over the reports, saying he was "very much worried" as those numbers are consequential to hospital, school and emergency preparation planning.

The Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., advocating for equality, issued a statement late last week following reports of that the Trump administration was to cut the deadline, chastising the move as it would hurt minorities.

"This new deadline allows Trump to cheat hard-to-count communities of color out of the resources needed for everything from healthcare and education to housing and transportation for the next 10 years," John C. Yang of Advancing Justice at the AAJC said in a statement. "The fate of our country's well-being and resources for the next 10 years is in jeopardy if Trump forces the U.S. Census Bureau to provide poor quality data to satisfy his political schemes."

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