Hansi Lo Wang | KERA News

Hansi Lo Wang

NPR's "Take A Number" series is exploring problems around the world — and solutions — through the lens of a single number.

One of the places many people are first prescribed opioids is a hospital emergency room. But in one of the busiest ERs in the U.S., doctors are relying less than they used to on oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin and other opioids to ease patients' pain.

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced it will change the way it counts troops deployed overseas, while keeping its policy on counting prisoners for the upcoming national headcount in 2020. How these two populations are factored into the 2020 census could affect the balance of power in government at both the federal and local levels.

There's been a decades-long push for the U.S. Census Bureau to collect more detailed data on people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa, also known as MENA. Advocates of that campaign hit another roadblock Friday, when the Census Bureau announced it is not planning to add a MENA category to the 2020 census.

Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET Friday

A Census Bureau announcement about the race and ethnicity questions for the 2020 census suggests the Trump administration will not support Obama-era proposals to change how the U.S. government collects information about race and ethnicity, census experts say.

In 1968, 1,300 black men from the Memphis Department of Public Works went on strike after a malfunctioning truck crushed two garbage collectors to death.

The strike led to marches with demonstrators carrying signs declaring "I Am A Man." Their organizing efforts drew support from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination.

Every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau asks some personal questions for the national headcount required by the constitution. But since 1960, one topic that hasn't come up for all U.S. residents is citizenship.

The Trump administration is trying to change that with a Department of Justice request for a question about citizenship on the 2020 census.

Latinos are one of the fastest-growing racial or ethnic groups in the U.S. But a new finding by the Pew Research Center suggests the Hispanic population may not get as big as demographers have predicted.

It has been called antiquated and even insulting.

But back in 1900, "Negro" was considered modern — a term that could replace a flawed set of categories used to classify people of African descent for the U.S. census.

A major decision on the way the U.S. government collects information about race and ethnicity through the census and other surveys was expected to be announced this week by the Trump administration.

But the White House's Office of Management and Budget, which sets standards for this type of data for all federal agencies, was silent on Friday, which OMB had said was the deadline for an announcement.

A spokesperson for OMB could not provide any information about the delay.

Updated Dec. 6

"White" has been a constant of the U.S. census.

Other racial categories for the national head count have come and gone over the centuries. But "white" has stuck ever since U.S. marshals went door to door by horseback for the first census in 1790, tallying up the numbers of "free white males" and "free white females," plus "all other free persons" and "slaves."

Updated Dec. 6

Some major changes may be coming to how the U.S. government collects data about the country's racial and ethnic makeup.

The Trump administration has been considering proposals to ask about race and ethnicity in a radical new way on the 2020 Census and other surveys that follow standards set by the White House.

More than two months since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and historic flooding damaged tens of thousands of houses in the Houston area, many homeowners who got hit are in a bind. Their now-gutted homes are financial drains.

That's bringing out investors who are eager to pick up damaged houses at low prices.

Call it a post-Harvey frenzy for flooded homes.

Corey Boyer, an investor based in Cypress, Texas, has been putting in more than a handful of offers – many site unseen.

Water spinach goes by many other names. A staple among some Asian-American families for stir-frys and soups, this stalky vegetable with arrowhead leaves and hollow stems is known as ong choy in Cantonese and rau muống in Vietnamese.

But in a Cambodian-American community tucked down the gravel roads of Rosharon, Texas — about a half-hour south of Houston — most people call it by its Khmer name, trakoun.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The federal government is gearing up for its big 2020 census count. Today Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Congress the Census Bureau needs more than $15 billion to do the survey.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

After an outcry from advisers to the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal agency is no longer considering a proposal to remove a question about sexual orientation from a marketing survey for the 2020 Census.

Asian-Americans are an incredibly diverse group.

To help capture that diversity, some states have recently passed laws requiring state agencies to collect more detailed demographic data about the country's fastest-growing racial group.

Those policies have been met with a backlash from within the Asian-American community.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

Members of the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S., the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, are heading into their annual meeting with no speaker from the White House and a new interim president and CEO. The meeting started Saturday in Baltimore.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Updated Tuesday, September 5

During the Obama administration, at least four federal agencies, including the Justice Department, asked the Census Bureau to add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the American Community Survey, NPR has learned.

Besides the Justice Department, those agencies include the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.

It's been almost four years since Patrisse Khan-Cullors helped birth the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. Those three words gained national attention for demonstrations against police brutality and grew into a movement.

But progress has been slow, admits Khan-Cullors, a Los Angeles-based activist who co-founded the Black Lives Matter Network.

A new leader is set to temporarily take over the U.S. Census Bureau after Director John Thompson retires from the post on Friday.

The Commerce Department, which is in charge of the bureau, has announced Ron Jarmin as the acting director. A career staffer who has spent 25 years at the Bureau, Jarmin currently serves as the associate director for economic programs.

The U.S. Census Bureau has never asked Americans about sexual orientation and gender identity. Last year, though, requests for that data came from more than 75 members of Congress and multiple federal agencies.

Still, the Census Bureau concluded "there was no federal data need" to collect this information, the bureau's outgoing director, John Thompson, wrote in March.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

D.J. and Angela Ross were not supposed to end up together, according to their families.

"Actually my grandma on both sides used to tell me, 'Boy, you better leave those white girls alone or else we're going to come find you hanging from a tree,' " says D.J., 35, who is black and grew up in southern Virginia.

Angela, 40, who is white and was also raised in Virginia, remembers being warned: "You can have friends with black people, and that's fine. But don't ever marry a black man."

Close to 50 years after interracial marriages became legal across the U.S., the share of newlyweds married to a spouse of a different race or ethnicity has increased more than five times — from 3 percent in 1967, to 17 percent in 2015, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

For the first time in more than a decade, Mexicans no longer make up the majority of immigrants staying in the U.S. illegally, according to new estimates by the Pew Research Center.

A demographic crisis looms over Maine, the oldest and whitest state in the U.S. with one of the country's lowest birth rates.

Employers are already feeling the effects on Maine's workforce as they struggle to fill positions with "old Mainers" — long-time residents in a state where many take pride in their deep family roots, especially along the shores of Washington County.

Here's the good news about young adults in the U.S. over the past four decades: More of them are working full time and year-round.

In 1975, close to 67 percent of adults from ages 25 to 34 were employed full time, and that share increased to 77 percent by 2016, according to a new report on young adults by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Updated: 2:19 p.m. ET

By all accounts, President Trump did not win the Asian-American vote in 2016. But the size of Hillary Clinton's margin of victory with voters in the fastest-growing racial group in the U.S. depends upon which exit poll you rely.

The U.S. Census Bureau published a list on Tuesday of more than 50 planned topics of questions for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey.

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