* Associated Press, September 18th…
Two weeks after a federal judge prohibited the U.S. Census Bureau from winding down the 2020 census, a manager in Illinois instructed employees to get started with layoffs, according to an audio of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.
During a conference call Thursday, the Chicago area manager told supervisors who report to him that they should track down census takers who don’t currently have any cases, collect the iPhones they use to record information, and bid them goodbye. The manager did not respond to an email from the AP.
“I would really like to get a head start on terminating these people,” he said. “All of these inactives that we have, we need to get rid of them. So hunt down your inactives, collect their devices, get them terminated and off of our lists.”
It was unclear whether such actions would violate U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s temporary restraining order prohibiting the Census Bureau from winding down field operations while she considers a request to extend the head count by a month.
The judge took further action late last week.
* Sophie Sherry at the Tribune on Friday…
Despite assurances from U.S. Census Bureau officials that there would be a final push to reach people this month, the latest data shows the Chicago region employed around 3,000 fewer people the week of Sept. 6-12 compared with the previous week. The move raises more questions about the reliability and completeness of a count that will determine Illinois’ representation in Congress and the state’s and city’s share of billions of dollars in federal aid over the next 10 years.
Late Thursday, a federal judge ordered the Census Bureau to extend its deadline from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31. The Trump administration is expected to appeal, but the judge’s order prohibits the agency from winding down operations until the case is resolved
The Chicago field office would not comment on the recent cutback of workers, but an official in Washington, D.C., said one reason might be that the Chicago area is actually faring very well in the census, with much of its population already counted, contrary to what every local official has been saying. […]
Olson said Cook County is about 90% counted when you combine responses from households and visits by census workers to homes that didn’t respond. But experts say that’s still not good enough.
Sherrie Taylor, interim head of the State Data Center Network, which works with the bureau, said the agency should not be satisfied with anything less than 99%. “Until there is 99% in every single tract, there’s questions about the reliability of the data,” she said. “In a sample survey, you’re happy to get a 20% response and that’s really good, but this is much more serious than that.”