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Despite clear warning from Census Bureau, news media throws caution to the wind

Friday, Aug 13, 2021

* Pollsters always ask questions the exact same way so they can track responses over time and distance. They know that if they change the questions that the results will usually change, so comparisons become somewhat apples to oranges.

Keep that in mind when you read this from the US Census Bureau about their new questions, with emphasis added by me

The 2020 Census used the required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race) to collect the races and ethnicities of the U.S. population — following the standards set by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 1997.

Building upon our research over the past decade, we improved the two separate questions design and updated our data processing and coding procedures for the 2020 Census.

This work began in 2015 with our research and testing centered on findings from our 2015 National Content Test and the designs were implemented in the 2018 Census Test.

The improvements and changes enabled a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self-identify, yielding a more accurate portrait of how people report their Hispanic origin and race within the context of a two-question format.

These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.

We are confident that differences in the overall racial distributions are largely due to improvements in the design of the two separate questions for race data collection and processing as well as some demographic changes over the past 10 years.

We are also confident, as shown in our research over the past decade, that using a single combined question for race and ethnicity in the decennial census would ultimately yield an even more accurate portrait of how the U.S. population self-identifies, especially for people who self-identify as multiracial or multiethnic. […]

It is important to note that these data comparisons between the 2020 Census and 2010 Census race data should be made with caution, taking into account the improvements we have made to the Hispanic origin and race questions and the ways we code what people tell us.


* With that clear warning in mind, here’s the Tribune

Overall, in the five collar counties, the white population declined by 183,869 over the past decade with the most significant drops in DuPage, down 54,689, and Lake, down 50,352. DuPage’s population has gone from 70.5% white to 63.4%, while Lake’s population has moved from 65.2% white to 57.2%.

At the same time, the five suburban counties showed an increase of 102,725 Latino residents. Will County’s loss of 37,159 white residents was offset by an increase in 31,975 Latino residents. DuPage’s loss of whites was countered by an increase of 22,785 Latino residents as well as an increase of 27,189 Asian residents.

Cook County’s population, including Chicago, also has grown more diverse and, like the collar county suburbs, has seen a significant drop in the number of white residents.

Over the decade, the county’s white population declined by 143,115 and now represents 40.5% of its residents. The county’s Black population also declined, by 80,177, and now makes up 22.5% of the population. In contrast, the Latino population increased by 138,016 and they now make up the county’s second largest racial or ethnic group, increasing to 26.2% of the population.

* ABC 7

Data shows the largest population in Illinois that declined was white residents, falling by nearly 700,000, compared to 2010.

* SJ-R

The number of people listed as white alone, 7.8 million people, represented 64% of the population, but that category dropped 14.3% during the 10-year period. The number saying they were white and at least another race rose by 334%, or 820,879.

Those listing their race in the Census as Black alone, 1.8 million people, dropped 3.1% between 2010 and 2020, but the number saying they were Black and at least one other race increased by 76,243, or almost 89%.


The data released Thursday reflected overall growth trends and demographic shifts for the Chicago region that have been reflected in census estimates the past few years — stagnant growth overall with little or no growth for white and Black residents, while the numbers of Latinos and Asians increase at much faster rates.

The data show that white residents are Chicago’s largest group, but their numbers grew by just 1% over the past decade from roughly 855,000 in 2010 to about 864,000 in 2020. While annual census estimates the past few years had established that white residents surpassed Black residents as the city’s largest group, this is the first decennial census count to reflect that since 1980.

Latinos and Asians were the fastest growing groups in those areas with their numbers increasing across the board at levels ranging from 7% to 39%. Conversely, the number of white residents declined in each of those areas at levels ranging from 7% to nearly 11%.

* The Sun-Times mentioned the Census admonition, but kinda buried it away

“These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past,” said Nicholas Jones, from the U.S. Census Bureau. “We are confident that the differences in overall racial distributions are largely due to improvements in the designs of the two separate questions for race data, collection and processing, as well as some demographic changes over the past 10 years.”

* Meanwhile, this Capitol News Illinois story is interesting

The Census Bureau also developed what it calls a “diversity index,” which attempts to measure how racially diverse a given population is. It is based on the probability that any two people chosen at random from the population would be from different races.

Illinois’ diversity index was listed as 60.3 percent, which is just below the national average but still in the second-highest quintile of states. Hawaii was ranked as the most diverse, with an index value of 76 percent, while Maine was the least diverse, at 18.5 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Blake - Friday, Aug 13, 21 @ 1:32 pm:

    I noticed USA Today’s reporting for the 2000 Census had that diversity index for states & saw them repeat in 2010. I recently saw a tweet saying the Census Bureau was picking up the USA Today method we now see.

  2. - PublicServant - Friday, Aug 13, 21 @ 1:43 pm:

    The Trumpiune is like the pyromaniac of the media, but the others are close behind. I was happy to see that the Sun-Times at least printed the caveats, but, you’re right Rich, they led with the hyperbole.

  3. - JoanP - Friday, Aug 13, 21 @ 2:15 pm:

    You can be white AND Latino. You can also be black AND Latino. This is the stupidity of conflating race and ethnicity, and that’s without going into the question of whether “race” is even a valid construct.

  4. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Aug 13, 21 @ 2:53 pm:

    JoanP, and you can be white and black too. Persons who identify as African American in the US have an average of 25% European ancestry, and there are pockets (mostly in the south) where persons who identify as White average 5% or more sub-Saharan African DNA. As people, we are often classified into a few buckets, even as most of us are a rainbow of heritages.

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