US makes historic revision in collection of race and ethnicity data

The revision is the first of its kind since 1997

In a welcome move for the immigrant community in the United States , the federal government is making a revision on how it categorizes people by race and ethnicity, an effort that officials believe will more accurately represent the population.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the revisions on Mar. 28. According to the proposed changes the office will combine questions about race and ethnicity that were asked separately on forms into one as many would either skip the question or answer inaccurately due to confusion between the two questions.

Additionally, a new Middle Eastern and North African category will be added to the choices available for questions about race and ethnicity. American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and White are the existing categories.

Welcoming the revision, Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and executive director of AAPI Data, said, “We applaud the federal government for releasing these long-needed revisions for standards that more adequately recognize and honor the diversity, strength and needs of our communities. Today’s announcement represents a vital step forward in the movement for data equity, with particular benefits for the diverse Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities we support through our work.”

“The collection of accurate data that more meaningfully represents our communities is a foundation to build collective progress on in the form of stronger policies, programs and investments across every sector — which in turn will positively impact our communities in all spheres, from health and education to access to jobs and public resources,” said Akil Vohra, director of policy for AAPI Data.

The OMB has also announced its decision to establish an Interagency Committee on Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards which will support and supervise the ongoing work of all federal agencies to meet the revised requirements