VI is still awaiting the results of the census; Official assures that they will be reliable
The 2020 COVID shutdowns may have undermined some Census Bureau work nationwide, but the man in charge of the Virgin Islands count expressed confidence in the territory’s process.
The results of the VI census have not yet been published.
Frank Mills, director of the Eastern Caribbean Center at the University of the Virgin Islands and local coordinator of the decennial census, said he didn’t expect even the initial VI data to be released until the end of October. ‘August.
The US Census Bureau released the first set of numbers for all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico on April 1. This report put the country’s total population at 331,449,281 and gave a breakdown by state, DC and Puerto Rico.
The office said it will soon release detailed information on those numbers to reveal things like the number of housing units, occupancy status and voting-age populations. To save time, he will release this report in rather raw form by August 16. A second, more understandable version will be available by September 30.
Again, the Virgin Islands and other smaller US territories – Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands – will not be included.
The so-called “island” regions are required to carry out the census every 10 years using the “long form”, a survey which includes questions on a wide range of subjects which must be conducted in the context of a personal interview. The questions cover topics such as education, transportation and internet access.
Residents of the rest of the country fill out a short form focusing almost exclusively on population figures, and they can submit it by mail or online. But the bureau still collects demographic information about them similar to what is on the long form.
Instead of surveying 331.4 million people every 10 years, the bureau sends a detailed questionnaire to a sample of 290,000 addresses each month, surveying – or attempting to survey – about 3.5 million households each month. year. This scientifically determined sample gives the bureau a good overview of the population across a wide range of social and economic issues, according to census officials.
Called the American Community Survey, the questionnaire was first used in 2005.
In recent years, it has emerged as a convenient way to obtain reliable information. In 2018, there was a 92% response rate; in 2019, the response rate was 86%.
But the response in 2020 was only 71%, or, according to the bureau, about two-thirds of the usual response.
Additionally, the responses the bureau received were generally from economically and educationally advantaged people, meaning the results were skewed.
So last week the bureau announced that it would not release the 2020 results of the American Community Survey.
He blamed the pandemic.
“Response rates from March through September 2020 — the half of the months that would make up the 2020 ACS one-year estimates — were severely impacted by the pandemic,” according to information on the bureau’s website. “To protect the safety of employees and survey responders, the Census Bureau was forced to suspend many ACS data collection operations, including dispatching survey materials, tracking in person from non-responding households and the collection of data from nursing homes, college dormitories, prisons and other group quarters.These difficulties in collecting responses have significantly affected the quality of the resulting estimates, that were often inconsistent with baseline or administrative data or that changed unexpectedly.”
Of course, the Virgin Islands faced similar challenges when conducting the 2020 census. It had to withdraw its enumerators shortly after beginning fieldwork in the spring of 2020, and they weren’t allowed to go door-to-door before June. At some point in July, they had to suspend fieldwork again, Mills said, though he doesn’t remember the exact dates.
However, he said, the deadline for the work was extended by about two months and the territory was given some leeway by the office to conduct interviews over the phone rather than in person.
“We had about a dozen people handling the phones,” he said. “The operations continued until December” rather than ending at the end of September.
So, Mills said, information from the 2020 census for the Virgin Islands should be reliable. It is used to set policies, track trends and needs, and share federal grants.
Whenever the office starts releasing territory results, they won’t all come at once.
“They’re doing this in stages,” Mills said.