The U.S. population has increased by as much as 8.7% since the past official count a decade ago to as high as 333.5 million, the Census Bureau estimates, NPR reported Tuesday.
The figures are based mainly on birth and death certificates, Medicare enrollment data, and other government records, while the official census itself, for the most part, relies on responses by households to a questionnaire.
The estimate is receiving unusual attention this time around due to disruptions in the once-a-decade official census caused by the coronavirus crisis and unprecedented hurricane and wildfire seasons, as well as last-minute schedule changes by the Trump administration.
The administration has been pressing the bureau to shorten the timeline for quality checks so the first set of census results can be delivered before the end of President Donald Trump's term Jan. 20.
But the Census Bureau is finding it particularly difficult this year to ensure the accuracy of the count, which is of critical importance since the official numbers are used to redraw voting districts, social science and public health research, as well as policymaking and the allocation of federal funds.
As part of its attempt to make sure of its accuracy, the bureau is currently carrying out a mini-census of less than 200,000 households to determine if and how this census might have made mistakes in its tabulations, a survey which is only scheduled for release next November.
Due to these delays, the bureau is planning to make public additional quality metrics sometime early next year.
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