Op-Ed | With 142 days to go, how is New York City faring in the count?

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By Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020

The murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have rightfully led to communities throughout the city exercising their right to free speech to make clear that a system of racism that allows for police brutality and mass incarceration of Black people can no longer stand. These individuals are also advocating for equity in resources for the Black community. 

In recent history, the significant undercount of Black and Brown communities in the census has also deprived these communities of critical federal funding.

So how are we doing in the census count thus far?

Some good news is that more than half of NYC households have already completed the census. There are many bright spots across the city, including neighborhoods that are home to historically undercounted communities. Some of these include Starrett City, Brooklyn (self-response rate: 62.7% as of June 9th), Parkchester, The Bronx (62.3%), Cambria Heights, Queens (56.3%), and Flatbush, Brooklyn (54.7%).

These neighborhoods have been integral in helping New York City close the gap in self-response rates between here and the rest of the nation this last month. Since May 12, the national census self-response rate has increased by just 2.1 percentage points while NYC’s rate has increased by 3.8 percentage points. 

The national census self-response rate is 60.8% and New York City has a self-response rate of 51.6%, a gap of just 9 percentage points. This is a significantly smaller gap between New York City and the nation than we saw at the end of the 2010 count. A decade ago, New York City had a final self-response rate of 61.9%, and the national rate was 76%, a gap of more than 14 percentage points.

While we are happy to be closing this gap, we must do more. And that’s why we are focusing on some of the neighborhoods with historically undercounted communities that need more help. My team at NYC Census 2020 is using a combination of community partnerships, organic digital outreach, and hyper-targeted ads to remind New Yorkers in places like North Corona, Richmond Hill, and East Elmhurst in Queens, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and Clifton in Staten Island to complete the 2020 Census. Those neighborhoods all have self-response rates at or below 45%.

An undercount in these neighborhoods, many of which have already suffered so much from the COVID-19 pandemic, would be a double blow in the decade to come. So we are doing whatever we can to get a complete count including helping New Yorkers complete the census at food distribution sites, creating a multilingual network of WhatsApp groups, and launching a contest where ten New Yorkers who complete the census will win a $1,000 gift card to Seamless.

Regardless of where you live, or your neighborhood’s current census self-response rate, we need you to fill out the census. You don’t need a mailer or a code, you can fill it out right now in under 10 minutes at My2020Census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020. 

Making Sense of the Census” is a weekly column from Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020.  Every week we will be publishing pieces from Julie and guest authors laying out the facts and answering tough questions about this year’s census. Fill out the census now at my2020census.gov.