Census 2020: NRFU Completion Rates on the map, by ACO


Sept. 4, 2020 updates for the Census 2020 Hard to Count/Response Rate map

  1.  Census Bureau Releases Door-Knocking Completion Rates for Each “Area Census Office” Across the U.S.

The Census Bureau has published the latest 2020 nonresponse follow up (NRFU) “workload completion rate” for each of the Bureau’s Area Census Offices. Census stakeholders had requested this data from the Bureau so they can better evaluate the progress of the door-knocking operation locally across the country. We have added these rates to our HTC/Response Rate map.

The NRFU workload encompasses visits to households that have not yet self-responded, as well as other quality checking activity. The completion rates indicate how much of the workload in each area has been accounted for. The rates provide a metric for stakeholders (though not the only metric) to monitor whether the door-knocking operation will be able to account for all of an area’s housing units within the shortened timeframe ending September 30.

The map below shows the pattern of completion rates by Area Census Office (ACO) as of September 4. There are 243 ACOs stateside and in Puerto Rico (5 other ACOs cover island territories). With less than a month to go to finish the door-knocking operation, only 4 ACOs have finished 90% or more of their workload, and the completion rate across more than a third of the ACOs is below 60%.

The Census Bureau published an online map of the completion rates this week, and provided data files for the rates and geographic data representing each ACO’s boundaries so others can map this data on their own. When analyzing completion rates, remember that on their own they don’t reflect the quality or accuracy of the count such as whether all or only some people in each household were counted or whether households were counted in-person or via proxy or using administrative records.

Note that the data ranges for our map of the NRFU completion rates is different than the Census Bureau’s. The Bureau’s map only uses 4 specific data ranges and a 5th category simply titled “complete.” We use 6 detailed ranges because we wanted to highlight the variation in completion rates across the country, and also show that a substantial amount of work remains to be done in many areas.

You can display the NRFU completion rates at our interactive HTC/Response Rate map, such as this link that zooms to one of the ACOs in Houston, TX (shown in the screenshot below). You can use the legend on the right to display the completion rates on the map, or you can use the On/Off toggle in the left-hand panel. The left-hand area displays the specific NRFU completion rate for each ACO, plus descriptive text about the rates.

This information in the left-hand panel is displayed automatically when you search for an ACO or if you select the “Census Offices” option at the top of the left-hand panel and then click/tap the map.

ACO geography

In some states, Area Census Offices are smaller than counties, such as the South Gate ACO in Los Angeles (view it on the map). Other ACOs are coterminous with entire states, such as the Billings ACO that covers all of Montana.

The Census Bureau also recently published Total Response Rates by state, representing the share of homes that either filled out the census questionnaire on their own or were visited and accounted for during the door-knocking / NRFU operation. The “NRFU enumeration” component of these total rates is different from NRFU completion rates:

  • The share of homes enumerated via NRFU reflects the number of households that were visited & resolved (enumerated in-person or by proxy/administrative records, or determined to be vacant, etc.) as a percent of the total number of housing units.
  • The NRFU completion rate reflects the number of visits by census enumerators to either enumerate households directly or to double-check the enumeration for quality control purposes, as a percent of the total number of those visits and other quality control actions that make up the NRFU workload.

Another difference between NRFU enumeration and completion rates is that the Census Bureau for 2020 is publishing enumeration rates by state and no other geography. The Bureau is publishing completion rates only by Area Census Office. Census stakeholders have requested data on enumeration and/or completion rates for smaller areas (such as counties or tracts), but the Census Bureau has not provided that finer-grained geographic data.

As always, we encourage and appreciate feedback about these new featuresPlease let us know if you’re able to put this information to use, and if we can improve the map for your work. Thanks!

Links to earlier updates

Make sure to follow us on Twitter at @Census2020Map !

The HTC 2020 map is a work in progress. Other recent updates and enhancements are described here:

  • August 27, 2020: 2020 Census Total Response Rates added to the map; tracts receiving a 7th mailing also highlighted.
  • August 11, 2020: Census self-response analysis leading into door-knocking follow-up; 8 million more homes need to be visited compared with 2010 in a shorter timeframe.
  • August 5, 2020: Online maps pinpoint areas at greatest risk of a rushed 2020 Census.
  • July 24, 2020: Door-knocking enumeration begins in selected areas; our map shows where and what to expect. Also updates on latest response rate analysis & recent online census self-response highlights.
  • July 15, 2020: New “Data Trends” feature added to the mapping site, with dynamic trendlines & animated map of response rate trajectories. Estimated response rates by state legislative district also added to the map.
  • June 25, 2020: Dynamic new metric to tract response rates at the tract, city, & county levels. Examples of other resources analyzing the latest 2020 Census self-response rates, and our latest analysis of the nation’s response rate trends.
  • May 27, 2020: Update/Leave operations have resumed in 42 states & Puerto Rico; rates are increasing slowly nationwide but bright spots highlight importance of census outreach to continue to boost response; tracts with lowest response rates are very different than tracts with highest rates.
  • May 14, 2020: New map search feature for Area Census Offices (where the Update/Leave operation is resuming), our latest self-response rate analysis (Week7), & links to other projects analyzing self-response rates.
  • May 6, 2020: News about where the Update/Leave operation is resuming, and our latest self-response rate analyses (Weeks 4, 5, & 6).
  • April 13, 2020: Week 3 Response Rate Analysis; Trendlines Added to the Map.
  • April 7, 2020: Week 2 Response Rate analysis; Tribal Lands added to the map.
  • April 3, 2020: Census 2020 HTC map news: “Census Day” Self-Response Bump; Data Q&A.
  • March 31, 2020: Week 1 Response Rate analysis.
  • March 23, 2020: Update on mapping self-response rates, with emphasis on the 2020 progress bar that fills in daily after the latest rates are published, easy share/embed options for your map, and some notes on the data.
  • March 19 2020: In a joint statement with our colleagues at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), we highlighted the importance of a fair and accurate 2020 Census as the coronavirus challenges grow, and lifted up the resources available at our HTC 2020 map to help inspire Americans to fill out the 2020 Census form on their own. Self-responding helps ensure that the Census Bureau collects reliable data about the nation’s population. And self-responding is a way to practice social distancing because it avoids a knock at your door later on from a census taker.
  • March 2020: The HTC map is now focused on census self-response rates. All the former info at the map is still there. But now that census mailings are going out, the map has been updated to reflect 2010 response rates in anticipation of integrating 2020 real-time rates after March 20. NB: the map not only displays response rates for each state, county, and tract, but also include a bar chart in the map’s left-hand panel that shows the 2010 rate (and 2000, for historical context) for now. The 2020 column in the bar chart is empty, but it will start to go up after March 20. How quickly and how far it rises depends on local census stakeholders!
  • February 2020: New data on the risk of undercounting young children, in collaboration with the Population Reference Bureau. For more info, visit PRB’s website.
  • January 2020: To help promote the official start of the 2020 Census in Alaska, we added a special “It Starts Here” (in Toksook Bay, AK) graphic on the map. Updates in January also included new 2014-2018 population estimates for tracts, counties, states, legislative districts, and more.
  • December 2019: New advanced tract search feature, statewide maps of Census Bureau contact strategies, and more.
  • November 2019: Comprehensive information for all 2020 Census contact techniques combined in one place at the HTC 2020 map, so census stakeholders can more easily inform local residents about what to expect when the 2020 decennial census takes place. Also see the CUNY Center for Urban Research website for a state-by-state analysis.
  • October 2019: Updates to TEA designations; the latest examples of groups using the HTC map across the country; enhancing the HTC metrics with the Census Bureau’s “low response score”, the Urban Institute’s projections of undercount by state; & more.
  • August 2019: In-Field Address Canvassing areas & stats on the map; organizations that are using the HTC map for local grant assistance; new examples of linking to and/or embedding the HTC map.
  • July 2019: new feature to highlight tracts based on share of households without internet access; a list of other census maps nationwide, and more.
  • June 2019: Census contacts by state/county; census tract search feature.
  • April 2019: customized printing, data downloads, and more.
  • March 2019: mapping Type of Enumeration Areas (TEA) and Area Census Offices (ACOs)
  • January 2019: new ACS data for the 2013-17 period (including internet access), new legislative info, public library locations, and tribal lands added to the map.

If you haven’t signed up for our HTC 2020 map updates, please do so here.

We look forward to hearing your suggestions for improving the map. Please contact the Mapping Service at the CUNY Graduate Center with your feedback.



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