Cool Map of Areas Difficult for the Census 2010 to Count

Check out the Census 2010 Hard-To-Count Interactive Map (  It pinpoints census tracts that the U.S. Census Bureau considers difficult to count. It also displays the detailed demographic and housing characteristics that the Census Bureau believes will create challenges to achieving an accurate count in certain communities.

Hard To Count Census Tracts in San Antonio, Texas

Hard To Count Census Tracts in San Antonio, Texas

The mapping tool is based on the Census Bureau’s Tract Level Planning Database (, which identified twelve population and housing characteristics associated with low mail response in the 2000 census.  There are six “person” characteristics:
•       language isolation;
•       unemployment;
•       mobility;
•       below poverty level;
•       receiving public assistance; and
•       no high school diploma …

… and six housing characteristics:
•       crowded housing;
•       multi-unit buildings;
•       lack of telephone in home;
•       vacancy rate;
•       renter occupied; and
•       complex households …

…to calculate “hard-to-count” scores, ranging from 0 – 132 for every census tract in the country.  The new mapping site uses a threshold score of 61 or higher to identify hard-to-count census tracts.  The cutoff score of 61+ identifies roughly the top 20% of all tracts nationwide that are the hardest-to-count. In addition to showing these characteristics within hard-to-count census tracts, the database shows tracts with low 2000 census mail return rates and high foreclosure risk.

“This web site will help groups promoting 2010 census participation across the nation get the biggest bang for their buck by focusing precisely on the communities that will be hardest to count,” said Steven Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service.  “The tool will also help these advocates communicate effectively with people in hard-to-count areas because the maps reveal why each location will likely face enumeration challenges.”  Mr. Romalewski pointed to language barriers, large numbers of renters, high poverty rates, and a prevalence of non-traditional households as some of the characteristics – alone or in combination – that the Census Bureau’s research indicates will contribute to a difficult environment for the census.  “The website provides visual evidence of those challenges with powerful maps and interactive data,” he noted.

I found out about this awesome resource in the Census News Briefs, which is prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal.  You can check out previous Census News Briefs at

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