What’s up with the 2020 Census?

Photo via U.S. Census Bureau

Of all years for a pandemic to strike, 2020 was the absolute worst case scenario for the Census Bureau. It upended collection and outreach efforts across the country, which—in combination with ongoing legal battles over counting procedures for undocumented Americans—severely postponed the planned rollout of decennial data this year.

Here’s what we know as of today: Block-level population estimates, which Virginia needs to complete its redistricting, are expected in September for the whole country. (Get ready for some extra elections.) Nevertheless, the Census Bureau continues to diligently release helpful data from other survey products. Here are some key takeaways we think you should know.

Since last summer, the Census has tracked the pandemic’s impact through the Household Pulse Survey. The ongoing survey includes questions about housing insecurity and likelihood of eviction or foreclosure. As of late February, 5.6% of Virginians have “slight or no confidence” they will pay next month’s rent or mortgage, down from 7.7% in early January. Still, roughly 1 in 5 Virginians live in households that are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to face eviction or foreclosure in the next two months due to nonpayment.

Other new Census data releases of note include:

  • The Survey of Market Absorption of New and Multifamily Units (SOMA), which showed the total number of apartments built in the country in 2019—pre-COVID—was already 15,000 below total production from 2017.
  • The national 2020 Q4 data from the Housing Vacancies and Homeownership (CPS/HVS) survey indicated a rental vacancy rate of 6.5%, a homeowner vacancy rate of 1.0%, and a homeownership rate of 65.8%. Among non-Hispanic White Alone households, the homeownership rate was 74.5%, and was the only race category to see a statistically significant increase from 2019 Q4. All other races have homeownership rates below 60%, with Black Alone households the lowest at 44.1%.

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