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US Census Bureau may soon provide separate data for Native Hawaiians, but they need public input

U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. Census Bureau officials say they may soon provide additional demographic data that would separate Native Hawaiians from other Pacific Islander groups such as Samoans, Chamorros, and Tongans.

Nicholas Jones, director and senior advisor of race and ethnic research at the U.S. Census Bureau, says they plan to produce more detailed race and ethnicity data than ever before.

But before that happens, they need feedback from the public.

"This is the data product where communities will be able to get data on detailed disaggregated Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander groups such as Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro and more," he said.

"We’re proposing to include data for the nation, for states, for counties. What we’re looking for is feedback from the public, from data users, from policymakers on how they use those important statistics for detailed groups and we’re looking for feedback this fall to help us really finalize this proposal."

For nearly 25 years, federal standards set by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget have combined Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders into one broad demographic category.

That grouping masks the unique characteristic and needs of these communities. The resulting data, often used to inform policy and guide resources allocation, may not be as accurate.

Comments on disaggregated data for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders can be emailed to 2020DAS@census.gov with “2020 Census Data Products” in the subject line.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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