2020 Census: Weeks Remain to Count All New Yorkers


July 24, 2020

On August 11th, Census Bureau offices across the country will begin Non-response Follow-up (also known as the “door-knocking phase”) by visiting homes that have yet to complete their 2020 Census form. Like much across our daily lives, the 2020 Census operation had to adjust to accommodate the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it, including moving the deadline to complete the Census from July to October 31st. With this needed change, comes the risk of falling into a false sense of security in believing that “we still have time”. While changes in the 2020 Census timeline provide more time for organizations and communities to Get-Out-the-Count, limitations on in-person Census events due to COVID-19 put many communities in danger of a severe undercount that will impact New Yorkers over the next 10 years.

As of July 14th, the national Census self-response rate was 62.1%. In New York State, only 57.6% of homes have responded to their Census, placing our state 38th in the country. While our state and nation’s Census response rates lag significantly relative to the 2010 Census, this is especially true in communities experiencing racial and income inequality who are also the hardest hit by COVID-19. Many of these communities have been historically undercounted and are already at heightened risk of undercounting young children in the 2020 Census. At the same time, there are communities with higher median incomes in Manhattan that are also experiencing lower than expected response rates, possibly due to factors related to COVID-19. It is critical that all communities are accurately counted in the Census, so they receive the federal resources they need at a time of increased economic uncertainty.

The next several weeks will prove to be a critical period in which organizations, community leaders, and Census advocates across New York City must be able to effectively reach and engage New Yorkers to complete the Census. The chart below highlights the current NYC response rate by borough compared to their 2010 total self response rates. Yet, looking at Census response rates at the borough/county level tells us only a part of the story.

NYC Self Response Rates by Borough in 2010 and 2020

2020 data updated on July 15, 2020


Census Tract Spotlight

The map below highlights response rates across New York City by Census Tract (a small NYC geography with populations between 3,000 to 4,000) broken down by digital and total response.

NYC Self-Response Rates in 2020 by Borough and Census Tract

Data updated on

Scroll to zoom or double click a borough to see Census tract response rates.

Click and drag to navigate the map

< 25%< 50%< 75%< 100%

By looking at New York City’s 2020 census response rates by census tract, we can pinpoint communities that are doing well and those that need additional support to ensure that more homes — especially those with young children, are completing their Census forms by phone or internet. This will also enable community organizations working with residents to understand and address what barriers are preventing families from completing their Census.

Below, we have identified examples of census tracts within the five boroughs and take a deeper look into the tract’s census response rates, demographics, and adjacent neighborhoods. This allows us to see just how consistent or varied response rates may be between different neighborhoods and where we may focus our Census efforts — especially in homes with situations that contribute to an undercount of young children. We will refer to census tracts by the name of their corresponding Neighborhood Tabulation Area (NTA) name.

Tap a tract below to learn more

Data as of July 15, 2020

< 25%< 50%< 75%< 100% NYC Average Self-Response
on July 15, 2020

These examples across the five boroughs of New York City provide a brief snapshot of response rates and examples of the different types of barriers New Yorkers face in completing the Census. It is important to note that even though these examples highlight a particular barrier to families and young children being counted in the Census, it usually is not the only barrier that exists for the community.

We know that there are many situations where children and families are not counted in the Census with the most common situations including homes that have no or limited access to internet, are experiencing poverty, read/speak a language other than English, are immigrants, are renters, live in crowded or multi-family households, live in single parent households, and other situations that indicate barriers to being counted.

Yet, there are also clear examples of at-risk communities defying the common narrative and demonstrating how dedicated efforts to Get-Out-the-Count using consistent and relevant engagement, community mobilizing, sufficient resources, and effective strategies can bring us closer to our goal of achieving a 100 percent response rate.

To help achieve this goal, we have compiled a selection of several different resources that will help inform messages, strategies, and tools to support your current Get-Out-the-Count Strategies.

  1. Visit our 2020 Census Resource Page: With the Census being extended through October 31st, CCC will be available to support you remotely, provide trainings or conduct online presentations to your staff and community. You can visit our Census Resource Page for the latest content published. You can email us at crosales@cccnewyork.org to organize a digital event and to learn more.
  2. Organize a Phone Banking Event or Incorporate Census Messaging into Remote Outreach: CCC has also developed a Phone Banking & Messaging Guide that provides you with comprehensive instructions on organizing a GOTC phone bank, sample scripts you can use, shorter scripts you incorporate into other outreach calls, live streams, or voicemail messages, and useful resources and links you can refer to.
  3. Remote & Digital Outreach Strategies During COVID-19: Learn about outreach strategies and tools available to you to engage your communities on the 2020 Census.
  4. How & Why to Talk About Census & Voting Rights Amidst Uprisings for Justice: Color of Change created a memo that talks about how to frame Census and voter justice in the context of ongoing uprisings in response to state-sanctioned violence. Click here to view and download it.
  5. Watch Some of CCC’s Most Recent Webinars: Learn more about the connection between Child Well-being & the Census and the impact COVID-19 Has on Child & Family Well-being.

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