This month’s map is a collection of maps visualizing the 2020 Census redistricting data for Hampton Roads. Included are maps of total population, population density, total population over 18, predominant race and ethnicity, population in group quarters, and housing vacancy rates. Each map is multi-scale so that the closer it is zoomed in, the more detailed the geography and data will be. Clicking on the map will open a pop-up containing the data for that geography level.
The U.S. census has counted every resident in the country every ten years since 1790, based on where they lived on April 1. The Constitution requires this count to allocate the number of seats among the states for the House of Representatives. This process is known as apportionment and must be conducted after each census to distribute the 435 seats in the House. Once the number of representatives each state receives is determined, then the states must go through the redistricting process to redraw the boundaries of the congressional districts in that state so that number of people represented is roughly the same between districts.
The data released on August 12, 2021, is known as P.L. (Public Law) 94-171 and is the data used for this redistricting process. This is the first look at block-level data about population, race, group quarters, and housing occupancy. The block is the smallest level of geography used by the Census Bureau to tabulate population counts. Additional data will be released in 2022 covering more detailed breakdowns of age, race, families, and more.
One change in the 2020 Census is the introduction of differential privacy which is a method used to protect the privacy of individuals by injecting “noise” in the block level data. Even though no personal data is released, a small geography combined with age and race and other data could be enough to identify certain individuals. However, this may create some challenges for those who use census data for analysis and research. Additionally, the 2020 Census was conducted right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing delays in data collection and potential accuracy issues. For further information about some of the potential difficulties with the 2020 census, see the October Hampton Roads Economic Monthly.