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U.S. commerce chief sets October 5 target date to end census operations


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has set Oct. 5 as a target date to end data collection operations for the 2020 U.S. census, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Monday, weeks before the scheduled completion date of Oct. 31.

President Donald Trump's administration, which said in August that it planned to shorten the time line by a month, was sued by municipalities and civil rights groups, which argued the "rushed" schedule would lead to inaccurate census results and "a massive undercount of the country's communities of color."

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh issued a preliminary injunction last week barring the administration from winding down the count by Sept. 30.

"The Secretary of Commerce has announced a target date of October 5, 2020 to conclude 2020 Census self-response and field data collection operations," the Census Bureau wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The Oct. 31 scheduled completion date was announced by the Census Bureau, which is under the Commerce Department and counts all Americans every 10 years, in April after it suspended field collection in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The census count's accuracy is critical, as the survey determines how the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures draw voting districts during the next round of redistricting and guides the federal government in allocating $1.5 trillion a year in aid.

(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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