What Will a Cut in U.S. Census Bureau Funding Mean for America’s Cities?

“It’s been almost seven weeks since we evacuated New Orleans, and being in this state of almost constant uncertainty, you can’t help but think about all the things you used to take for granted. Things like being able to go home; having neighbors, childcare, electricity, safe water to drink. And so that’s what I’ve been doing: slowly coming to terms with all of these small losses and large losses that myself and other people in New Orleans are facing.

“Last week, I got a call from the Brookings Institution, and they asked me to come to D.C. It snapped me out of my fog. They said they wanted me to talk about what we were doing with Census data in New Orleans. And they explained that the Census Bureau was in danger of losing funding to continue the good changes they were making to the decennial census and that they wouldn’t be able to roll out the American Community Survey as planned at Census if these budget cuts took place.

“Well, like all bad news, it took a while to set in, and when it did, I realized that the Census was something else that I had been taking for granted. We’d been using Census 2000 data since it came out, and, sure, it was starting to show signs of age, but it was still good for doing what we needed to do in New Orleans. And we were really counting on the American Community Survey to come out so that we could get up to date small area demographics on New Orleans neighborhoods…”

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