2020 census | Michigan Radio

2020 census

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Today, on Stateside, we break down the numbers from the U.S. Census and what they mean for redistricting in Michigan. Plus, a conversation with longtime radio journalist Vickie Thomas about living and working in Detroit for 30 years. 


The Census Bureau’s apportionment report has been sent to the President.

Michigan will lose one seat in Congress. That brings it to 13 Representatives in the House, the lowest number since the 1920s. Michigan has been losing seats in Congress since the 1980 Census.

The official resident population for the nation is 331,449,281. That’s up by nearly 23 million (up 7.4%) from the last Census held in 2010.

congressional map of Michigan
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s independent redistricting commission is seeking more time to redraw the state’s political maps, citing expected delays in the release of the 2020 Census data. 

The winding down of the 2020 census must remain on hold nationwide through Sept. 24 at the latest, a federal judge in California has ordered.

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In Flint, there’s a push to get as many city residents as possible counted in this year’s U.S. Census.

Anthony Turner is coordinating the city’s census campaign. He says roughly 80% of city residents have responded to the census. 

But Turner admits it will be challenging to get those who haven’t yet responded to do so.

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The push is on in Michigan to get as many people counted as part of the U.S. Census as possible.

In Saginaw Wednesday, that meant standing in the rain.

“Did you all fill out your censuses...” a volunteer at a food giveaway in Saginaw patiently asked each driver in a very long line of cars about filling out their U.S. Census forms.

generic census form
comedy_nose / flickr

Detroit is mounting a final push to increase its all-important response rate for the U.S. Census.

The city's response rate right now is 49.3%, and the Trump administration has indicated the door-to-door phase of the census will end on September 30th.

The city has hired its own census workers - who will now continue their own door-to-door effort, in addition to federal census employees.   

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

New research  shows Detroit is the seventh-fastest shrinking big city in the U.S.

Using Census data, the insurance company AdvisorSmith Solutions put out a report on growing cities and shrinking cities. It used the population in 2014 and compared it to 2019.

During that period, Detroit lost 12,600 people, a drop of 0.4%

census letter
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  Census workers are beginning to knock on doors of households that have not responded to the 2020 census. In Michigan, they’re starting this canvassing in Lansing and Oakland County. Door to door efforts began August 6 and will end on September 30.

Kerry Ebersole-Singh is the Michigan Statewide Census Director. She says the most work needs to be done in Detroit, but that won’t start until next week.


Today on Stateside, while the United States Census of 2020 is still being counted, Michigan responses are higher than the national average. But some communities in the state are vulnerable to being left out of the official count, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, how the inequalities Black Michiganders discussed at the state’s first Convention of Colored Citizens in 1843 compare with those Black Americans still face today. Plus, kids and parents negotiate privacy and trust in the age of smartphone tracking.

2020 Census
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Every 10 years, the United States attempts a massive feat: trying to count every person who lives here. Not only is the census a huge undertaking, it has serious implications for communities across the country. It determines how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives, and helps determine the districts for state and local races as well. It also plays a role in the allocation of federal funding. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city is ready to jumpstart some construction projects that were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but only with health protections in place.

All workers will need to get a COVID-19 test before they go back to work. They’ll also be required to wear masks, and employers will need to perform daily temperature screenings and symptom checks.

COVID-19 pushes census field operations to June

Apr 15, 2020
census letter
Enayet Raheem / Unsplash

The U.S. Census Bureau says it will resume its field operations on June 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s the day when workers will start going door-to-door to interview people who’ve not yet completed their census form online, by phone or by mail.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Concerns over coronavirus forced several top state officials to conduct a town hall promoting the 2020 U.S. Census in an empty auditorium in Flint Thursday.   

The public was barred from attending the event out of concern of potentially spreading the deadly COVID-19 virus.  The event was streamed on Facebook.

a young black boy's hands under a sink faucet
Adobe Stock Images

Today on Stateside, Democratic front-runners in the presidential primary are making their final pitch to Michigan voters. We spoke to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and heard about former Vice President Joe Biden's message to voters in Grand Rapids. Plus, the city of Detroit will restore water to thousands of households because of fears about the spread of COVID-19. 

2020 Census
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When you think about the census, you might picture people knocking on doors and canvassing neighborhoods. But the 2020 census will look a little different. The U.S. Census Bureau is trying to move the count online where people would fill out a digital form with their information.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Michigan’s Census office is collaborating with other state and federal officials on ways to keep people's concerns about the coronavirus from affecting the Census count. 

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 11 with a victim succumbing in California, the first reported fatality outside the state of Washington.

After centuries of putting pen or pencil to paper, the U.S. government is getting ready to rely on digital screens and the cloud for its first-ever primarily online census.

Starting March 12, households across the country are expected to be able to participate in the once-a-decade national head count by going to my2020census.gov to complete the online census questionnaire, which is set to be open to the public through July 31.

generic census form
comedy_nose / flickr

State officials want people to fill out the Census this year. So there will be multiple town hall meetings across the state.

The 2020 Census in Michigan, which is handled by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office, will be working with the Attorney General’s office and the Secretary of State to hold the meetings.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor admits his city should have started preparing for this year’s census a year ago. But he says the city is trying to catch up.

A U.S. Census Bureau form sent to a Michigan address last year
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, as the UAW strike against General Motors begins its fourth week, we hear from one striker on the picket line. Plus, how Governor Whitmer’s line item vetoes will impact charter schools and autism services in Michigan. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

You could see canvassers from the Census Bureau in your neighborhood soon.

The Census Bureau is starting its first major field operation prior to the 2020 Census: address canvassing. Basically, the Census Bureau needs to verify people’s addresses so it can accurately send invitations to respond to and participate in the census. 

Lou Canfield is the city of Grand Rapids' Development Center Manager, and the Grand Rapids 2020 Complete Count Committee liaison. He works with that committee to ensure an accurate count from Grand Rapids.

someone filling out a census form in spanish
Didier Doceux / Adobe Stock



Today on Stateside, we discuss how the Trump administration could still limit non-citizen participation in the 2020 Census, even after dropping its pursuit of a citizenship question. Plus, how the opioid crisis is putting a strain on the resources of county morgues.



2020 Census
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In wake of reports of communities at risk of being undercounted for the 2020 U.S. census, organizations in West Michigan are investing in ways to make sure people of color fill out the census and are represented.

On Tuesday, Heart of West Michigan United Way, a nonprofit organization in Kent County, awarded grants to 19 agencies in Kent County to support census outreach in undercounted communities.

Supreme Court blocks 2020 census citizenship question, Trump threatens delay

Jun 27, 2019
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday to reject the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census — for now.

The Trump Administration said it wanted to add the question to enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters' access to the ballot box. Those who opposed the move feared it would discourage the participation of minorities in elections. 

Courtesy of the MI Supreme Court



Today on Stateside, how two new major US Supreme Court decisions will impact Michigan. Plus, with the anniversary of the Stonewall riots this Friday, we look at the history of the gay rights movement in Michigan.


Updated at 7:54 p.m. ET

President Trump says he is looking into delaying the 2020 census, hours after the Supreme Court decided to keep a question about citizenship off the form to be used for the head count.

Trump tweeted that he has asked lawyers whether they can "delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter."

generic census form
comedy_nose / flickr

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says President Trump’s proposed citizenship question on the upcoming U.S. Census form will discourage participation. She says that would cost Michigan political power in Washington as well as federal money for schools, health care, and roads.

“I think with a lot of the rhetoric that’s happening in this country right now to add this question will create fear and will keep us from getting a complete count here in the state of Michigan,” she said.

Challenges threatening the upcoming 2020 census could put more than 4 million people at risk of being undercounted in next year's national head count, according to new projections by the Urban Institute.