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Arkansas is one of six states undercounted in U.S. Census



Little Rock, Arkansas — Arkansas is one of six states to be undercounted, according to a Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) completed after every Census count.

Alison Wright, head of data at Arkansas Economic Development Institute, The Post-Enumeration Survey is done to do a quality measure of the census count. “Yesterday they released that for Arkansas it was about 5%,” Wright said, “Which is about 150,000.”

According to Wright, this type of undercounting could affect federal funding. “There are things that rely on census data like SNAP, school district things for education, infrastructure data,” Wright said. “If you don’t have the right numbers you don’t know how to plan for roads.”

Although the survey provides no reason the pandemic could have been a contributing factor, along with people not wanting to give out information, Wright said. “There’s a lot of joint custody situations where nobody knows who is supposed to be the one to fill out the form and so nobody does it,” Wright said.

According to Patrick Cantwell, Chief of the Decennial Statistical Studies Division in the Decennial Directorate, although the information could impact the funding amounts, there are other studies that are done. “The Census Bureau also produces population estimates, not just states but for counties and place subparts of the state,” said Cantwell.

Each federal program has a different set of criteria, Cantwell said. “There are different formulas for different programs and then it’s up to the federal programs, to decide – according to the law – which numbers to use Cantwell said.”

So the census numbers count but they’re not the only number that goes into these formulas.