Two new analyses suggest the 2020 Census may have undercounted Black people at a significantly higher rate than usual, raising concerns about whether minority communities could lose out on fair representation and funding over the next 10 years.

The Census Bureau has not yet released data that would allow comparisons of 2020 Census results with earlier estimates to assess the survey’s accuracy. But a simulation comparing the bureau’s estimates for 2020 with results from 2010 indicates that the country’s Black population may have been undercounted at a rate up to three as high as in 2010. And a second report suggests the undercount of Black children could be up to 10 times as high as a decade ago.

If the analyses are borne out, the higher undercounts could have profound implications for a wide array of federally funded services, including Medicaid and Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), highway planning and construction, Section 8 housing vouchers and Head Start….

Even in the best of times, the census tends to overcount some populations and undercount others, with the highest undercounts among minorities, renters, low-income people and children. But the 2020 Census was fraught with challenges, including Trump administration efforts to add a citizenship question, the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters, and legal battles over the count’s end date. All of these raised concerns among experts about whether the undercounts would be more significant this time.

“It was a perfect storm for an undercount on multiple levels,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.). Many people in poor and minority communities are already reluctant to respond to questions about their household members, a problem that was exacerbated by the additional challenges, she said. “I’m hopeful that the official numbers are not as low as the ones that the analysts are putting out, but the numbers that we’ve seen from these analysts are disturbing.”…

The full extent of the survey’s undercounts and overcounts will become clearer next year when the bureau releases what is known as its modified race file, a tally that reassigns people who marked “some other race” alone into Black and non-Black categories. A post-enumeration survey, conducted by the bureau after each decennial census, will further assess the accuracy of the 2020 count…