Secondary Navigation

New York City Achieves Historic Census Self-Response Rate in 2020 Amidst Ongoing Attacks from the Trump Administration

October 20, 2020

City will remain vigilant regarding final census results and ongoing litigation attempting to exclude immigrants from the congressional apportionment count

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio and NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin announced today preliminary self-response data based on the City of New York’s first-of-its-kind campaign to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in a decennial census.

As of Saturday, October 17, 2020, New York City registered a historic 61.8 percent self-response rate to the 2020 Census, a figure that far outpaced most major cities in the United States, as well as the Census Bureau’s own pre-COVID estimate for self-response in the New York City area,  which was 58 percent. New York City’s self-response rate is higher than most demographically similar cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Houston, and Dallas, among others.

“New York City was not intimidated. Thanks to our efforts and the power of grassroots organizing, we stood and were counted, even in the face of COVID and presidential obstruction,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This campaign was an important reflection of our values, and we will continue to remain vigilant as the Census Bureau delivers its state population counts.”

“A complete census count can serve as a powerful step to right systemic wrongs that have robbed Black, Brown, and immigrant communities of their fair share of representation and funding, which makes a complete census count one of the great civil rights battles of today,” said J. Philip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “Our city’s effort was innovative at every turn, despite every obstacle that was thrown our way. We have made an important first step toward a complete count, and now we must stand guard as the Trump administration continues to oversee the Census Bureau’s processing of 2020 data.”

“We are very proud of the strong finish for New York in this national contest for resources and representation.  Given the dire fiscal situation our city faces post COVID, every household of more than two persons who responded to the census means approximately $7,000 for our city,” said Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census 2020 and Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel, NYC Law Department. “That’s why we will very closely monitor final census results when they’re released on December 31. We know that cutting the census short created a number of challenges for the U.S. Census Bureau’s door-knocking operation and we will fight to ensure that New Yorkers receive their fair share of federal funding and political representation.”

“We are deeply grateful for each individual who helped us reach all corners of the five boroughs to inform immigrant New Yorkers of their right to be counted in the census and to exercise their power. We celebrate New York City’s self-response rate and recognize that it’s a testament to the incredible mobilization made possible by the tireless efforts of so many,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. “New York City was proud to join the litigation to keep the citizenship question off the census, so it is safe for all. We will continue to fight the Trump administration’s relentless, anti-democratic attempts to stoke fear and misinformation about the census so we will ensure that every New Yorker, regardless of their immigration status, is seen and heard.”

Key Census Campaign Achievements:

  • Historic self-response: 61.8 percent self-response, surpassing no fewer than a dozen major cities in the U.S., as well as the Census Bureau’s pre-COVID estimate for self-response in the New York City area.
  • More than seven million text messages: More than seven million texts have been sent to New Yorkers reminding them to complete the census and/or assisting them with completing the census
  • More than four million calls: More than four million calls have been made to New Yorkers reminding them to complete the census and/or assisting them with completing the census
  • Close to one million New Yorkers clicked: Close to one million New Yorkers directly clicked on our digital advertisements directly linking viewers to the Census Bureau’s self-response page
  • Approximately half-a-million households: More than 470,000 New York City households, representing no less than 1.23 million New Yorkers, have been counted or directly assisted as a result of NYC Census 2020’s Campaign. This does not include New Yorkers who completed the census after seeing or hearing a NYC Census 2020 ad campaign.
  • More than 1,000 events: NYC Census 2020 and its partners organized or participated in more than 1,000 events in under a year, both in-person and virtual, regarding census participation
  • 34 media campaigns in 27 languages: NYC Census designed and launched a record-breaking 34 media campaigns in 27 languages - the most the City has ever done - to reach all New Yorkers. PSAs featured figures like Cardi B and Alicia Keys.
  • Three out of five boroughs surpassed their 2010 response: Number of boroughs surpassing their 2010 response rates (Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island).
  • 157 awardees: Number of NYC Complete Count Fund awardees - collectively, the recipients of $16 million funding for census education, outreach, organizing, and advocacy
  • More than 80: Number of languages in which NYC Complete Count Fund awardees serve New Yorkers
  • 16: Number of Citywide Partners - key partners responsible for developing strategy, identifying resources and tactics, as well as implementation and amplification

The de Blasio administration expresses its special thanks to the Citywide Partner Group, which consists of 15 organizations funded discretionarily by the City Council, as well as the City University of New York, with which the City worked to develop a citywide strategy for turning out self-response and implemented tactics across various sectors and communities to ensure increases in self-response were achieved.

ABNY (Melva Miller, Aliya Bhatia, and Steven Rubenstein)

City University of New York (Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, John Mogulescu, Gary Dine, John Mollenkopf, and Colette Labrador)

Asian American Foundation (Jo-Ann Yoo, Howard Shih, and Mariam Rauf)

FPWA (Jennifer Jones Austin and Yolanda Richard)

Asian Americans for Equality (Jennifer Sun and Thomas Yu)

Hester Street (Betsy MacLean and Vanessa Monique Smith)

Brooklyn NAACP (L. Joy Williams)

Hispanic Federation (Frankie Miranda and Emely Paez)

Center for Law & Social Justice, Medgar Evers College (Lurie Daniel Favors and Esmeralda Simmons)

Make the Road - NY (Tony Alarcon, Javier Valdés, Deborah Axt, Theo Oshiro, and Daniel Altschuler)

Chinese-American Planning Council (Wayne Ho and Amy Torres)

New York Immigration Coalition (Meeta Anand, Natalie Bernstein, Murad Awawdeh, Steve Choi, Betsy Plum)

Community Resource Exchange (Katie Leonberger, Louisa Hackett, and George Hsieh)

NALEO Educational Fund (Juan Rosa)

United Neighborhood Houses 
(Susan Stamler, Lena Cohen, and Nora Moran)

United Way of New York City (Sheena Wright, Lemuria Alawode-El, Lesleigh Irish-Underwood, Rucha Gadre, Melina Pope)

The de Blasio administration also expresses gratitude to the New York City Council Census Task Force, convened by Speaker Johnson and co-chaired by Council Members Carlina Rivera and Carlos Menchaca, which was particularly active in helping to achieve our historic self-response rate.

New York City remains vigilant about the next steps for the census, which is not yet over, and ongoing litigation attempting to exclude immigrants from the congressional apportionment count. The Census Bureau’s rushed data processing timeline of just two months is a cause for real concern.

The de Blasio administration has previously called on Congress to extend the reporting deadline for census data, a move that is all the more necessary and urgent, considering that there is reportedly a large amount of door-knocking data that is thought to be inconsistent, incomplete, or inaccurate as a result of the shortened timeline.

About NYC Census 2020
NYC Census 2020 is a first-of-its-kind organizing initiative that was established by Mayor de Blasio in January 2019 to ensure a complete and accurate count of all New Yorkers in the 2020 Census. This $40 million program is built on four pillars: (1) a $19 million community-based awards program, The New York City Complete Count Fund, empowering 157 community-based organizations and CUNY to engage historically undercounted communities around the 2020 Census; (2) an in-house “Get Out the Count” field campaign supported by the smart use of cutting-edge data and organizing technology, and a volunteer organizing program to promote a complete count in each of the city’s 245 neighborhoods; (3) an innovative, multilingual, tailored messaging and marketing campaign, including a $3 million commitment to investing in community and ethnic media to reach every New York City community; as well as (4) an in-depth Agency and Partnerships engagement plan, including libraries, hospitals, faith-based communities, cultural institutions, and more.

Media Contact
(212) 788-2958