New Report Finds Census Undercounted Certain Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities Despite Marginal Net National Overcount

Advancing Justice – AAJC Says AANHPI Communities Continue to Be Missed in Decennial Census
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144
Vivin Qiang 202-780-9327

Advancing Justice – AAJC Says Communities Continue to Be Missed in the Census – Reducing Resources in the Community and Undermining Political Representation – and Calls for Improvements By Census Bureau to Avoid Future Undercounts

Washington, D.C. — Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC (Advancing Justice – AAJC) releases a report, The Quality of the Decennial Census for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities: An Expanded Approach, which details that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities likely undercounted at lower levels of geography despite the Census Bureau reporting there was no national undercount for AANHPIs.

In advance of Census Day (April 1), Advancing Justice – AAJC and Demographic Analytics Advisors embarked on this critical analysis of the 2020 Census data because AANHPI communities are often difficult to count. Particularly the two groups found that some states in the West and in the South showed undercounts for Asian Americans and similarly, states in the Upper Midwest, the Northeast, and the South showed undercounts for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations. 

“We spent over a year reviewing the Decennial Census data for AANHPI communities to determine if our communities were counted accurately in 2020 and we found that in fact they were not counted accurately at county or regional levels,” said Terry Ao Minnis, Senior Director of Census and Voting Programs at Advancing Justice – AAJC.  “An inaccurate count of AANHPI communities at local levels means that those communities are missing out on vital financial resources and political representation where it counts the most – close to home.”

Data quality for the AANHPI communities matters because the accuracy of the numbers not only allows for better planning and outreach for the next Decennial Census, it also significantly impacts political representation and financial resourcing that can leave AANHPI communities fighting for their fair share for the next decade.  

“It is critical that we do not rest on the laurels of hearing that the AANHPI communities were most likely overcounted at the national level because we know how often segments of communities are missed when treated as a monolith,” said Christopher Dick, founder of Demographic Analytics Advisors. “There is so much rich data proving that much more needs to be done before it can be said these populations are accurately counted and be assured that each segment of the population is receiving fair access to the $1.5 trillion pot of money that is dispensed based on census data.”

The Quality of the Decennial Census for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities: An Expanded Approach meticulously takes the reader through the analysis of the 2020 census data, compares it to 2000 and 2010 data, and ends with both recommendations for how to improve census data collection and analysis. The report calls for the U.S. Census Bureau to review its measures for collecting direct responses from each household and to develop best practices for resolving omissions and duplications. The report provides insightful case studies of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities broken down by region, state, and county to further illustrate the undercount data.

Read an executive summary and the full report here.