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Weekly Spotlight: Census Gets an Upgrade

Under a new directive from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau is going to implement new answers to the question about race and ethnicity.

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Under a new directive from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau is going to implement new answers to the question about race and ethnicity. This is the first change to how the government categorizes race and ethnicity in 27 years. The demographic question will now include formal categories for “Middle Eastern or North African” and “Hispanic or Latino” as responses. Until now, Middle Eastern and North African respondents were expected to self-identify as “White,” and self-identifying Hispanic or Latino origin was an entirely separate question. The absence of categories that resonated with respondents in the 2020 census resulted in close to 50 million people self-identifying as “Some other race.” That catchall category became the second largest in the country, after “White.”

Critics have long advocated for these formal categories. Accurate demographic data ensures that no groups are overlooked or underserved when decision-makers in the federal government allocate funding, craft policies, and design programs. To understand just how crucial accurate census data is, read our report.


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