Financial Impact of the Census Undercount

Posted by Admin / on 09/16/2009 / 0 Comments

Categories: Census Undercount, Census 2000, Census 2010, Home Page Feature

A number of Federal and state funding sources are allocated to municipalities on the basis of population and demographic data. Some funding allocations are based on direct counts unrelated to the Census (for example school and hospital enrollment counts). However in the many cases where the decennial Census is the authoritative source of data on a given demographic characteristic, Census undercounts can have serious financial impacts, both on the way in which Federal and state funds are distributed across municipalities, and on the net level of Federal and state funding.

A 1999 General Accounting Office study  details Federal formula grant programs which are allocated according to Census data. The report finds twenty-one grant programs which would have been impacted by the 1990 undercount, and of these Medicaid makes up 83% of the total funding impact. The most notable funding sources impacted by the undercount are listed in Table 1. A complete list of the top 100 federal formula funding sources is given in the appendices of the report, Financial Impact of the Census Undercount (see below).

 

Table 1 - Federal Formula Grant Programs Impacted by the Undercount

Funding Source

FY 2006 Spending (billions)

Scope of Undercount impact

Medicaid

$199.6

reimbursement rate to states  

Title I grants to Local Education Agencies

$12.6

local education agencies share of total available funding

WIC (food stamps)

$5.3

federal allocation to states per program participant for administrative costs, as well as state share of surplus above 'stability allotment' for food costs

Federal Mass Transit Grants

$4.6

local transit authorities for bus systems share of total available funding 

Foster Care

$4.3

reimbursement rate to states

Community Development Block Grants (to metropolitan areas) 

$2.7

metropolitan cities and counties share of total available funding

Social Services Block grants

$2.3

state share of total available funding

Child Care and Development Block Grant

$2.0

state share of total available funding

Adoption Assistance

$1.8

reimbursement rate to states

HOME Investment Partnerships Program

$1.8

states and local jurisdictions share of total available funding

Block Grants for Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse

$1.6

state share of total available funding

Vocational Education: Basic Grants

$1.2

state share of total available funding

Community Development Block Grants (to states) 

$1.1

state share of total available funding

Employment Services

$0.8

state share of total available funding

Maternal and Child Health Services

$0.6

state share of surplus above 1983 amounts

Rehabilitation services: Basic Support

$0.6

state share of surplus above 1978 allotments

Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities

$0.3

state share of total available funding

Source: SCSJ Financial Impact of the Census Undercount; GAO Report (1999) and fedspending.org

On a county or municipality level, the impacts of a census undercount come in three forms. First, the level of federal funding allocated to the state in which a county is located can be impacted by a net undercount at the state level. Second, the way in which federal funds are distributed across the state can be impacted by a county-level undercount. Third, and related, a county's share of state-specific programs which use census data to determine funding levels can be impacted by a county-level undercount. For additional information, review the following report by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice: Financial Impact of the Census Undercount (pdf).

 

 

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