In today’s Washington, even the Census Bureau is a source of drama. The department has no director. Due to funding constraints, it has abandoned pre-census research in West Virginia and Washington state that was meant to check the integrity of parts of its survey process. It is weighing whether to add a question about citizenship to the decennial census; community groups around the country have spent months imploring Congress and the Census Bureau not to do so. They’re afraid that adding the question would lower response rates and make the survey less reliable.
For groups that work to ensure the census is an accurate count of the population, all those issues are concerns — and ones they didn’t see coming. That’s left less time for the more mundane tasks they had expected to be dealing with at the moment, including one that’s little-known outside census circles1: The census is significantly off in its count of how many young children live in the U.S.