One of the biggest issues with the U.S. Census and probably the one that wastes the most money is trying to count those who are hard to count. My personal fix would be to use sampling to solve the problem, but for now the task of the Census takers is to try and count everyone. My attention was brought to a project called “Census Hard to Count 2010” which maps the “hard to count” population nationwide (based on the Census Bureau’s analysis) to help local and national organizations target their outreach efforts for the 2010 Census and customize messages to communities at risk of being undercounted.

It features interactive maps at the state, metro, county, and tract level, along with detailed statistics for each area. You can search in various ways, and also add overlays showing Congressional districts, ZIP Codes, tract-level maps of 2000 Census mail return rates, and recent foreclosure risk. There’s a FAQ that goes into details about the data and their methodology.

Clearly larger states have a bigger problem with hard to count populations but Alaska, Hawaii and New Mexico probably point out that there are socioeconomic factors as well. Using the demographic layers available in the web app shows that this problem is very difficult to pinpoint and my hat is off to those trying to crack it.

The UI from the Census Hard to Count 2010 Application