All Things Census


Challenging Your Local Census Count

Now that the 2010 Census numbers have been released for every place in the United States, a number of local officials—including the mayors of New York and Detroit—have announced plans to file administrative challenges to counts that they contend are too low.  Based on past patterns, some lawsuits alleging undercounts also can be expected.

Census numbers indicated that New York City’s population in 2010 was 8,175,133, compared with 8,008,278 a decade earlier. That gain of about 167,000 people was smaller than expected, and city officials say it was less than the number of new housing units added over the decade. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city will file a formal challenge, focusing on problems in Brooklyn and Queens.

The mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, hopes a challenge could increase his city’s official count of 713,777 to about 750,000. As counted  by the Census Bureau, Detroit’s population fell by 25% from 2000 to 2010. Both city and regional officials say the official count could be low by tens of thousands of people.

Both cities will appeal under the Census Bureau’s Count Question Resolution program, which offers a limited opportunity to challenge the numbers. Any changes would not affect apportionment of congressional seats, counts for redistricting purposes or official census data products. The changes would be incorporated into Census Bureau population estimates, which federal agencies use as the basis for dividing program funds among the nation’s states and localities for the next decade. Read more


Multi-Race Americans and the 2010 Census

When final national race counts from the 2010 Census were released last month, they included more than 9 million Americans who self-identified as belonging to two or more race groups. One of them was not President Barack Obama, child of a white mother and black father, who said last year that he described himself on his census form as “black.”

As columnist Gregory Rodriguez recently pointed out, the number of Americans who checked both “black” and “white” on their census forms grew by 134% from 2000 to 2010. (Among non-Hispanics, about 1.6 million reported being both black and white, but not any other race; among Hispanics, about 654,000 did so.) Rodriguez lamented the president’s decision not to include himself in more than one racial category.

The perception of Obama’s racial identity is quite different among black and white Americans, according to a Pew Research Center survey on race in late 2009 that asked respondents “do you think of Obama as black or mixed race?” Among non-Hispanic whites, 53% said the president was mixed race, but 55% of non-Hispanic blacks said he was black. Among Hispanics of all races, 61% said Obama is mixed race.



How Many Hispanics? More Than Expected

The Pew Hispanic Center released an updated analysis today that compares Hispanic population counts in the 2010 Census with the Census Bureau’s own population estimates. (A previous analysis, published March 15, included numbers for 33 states. This report includes all 50 states and Washington, D.C.) Nationally, the 2010 Census counted nearly 1 million more Hispanics than expected, as compared with the bureau’s population estimates. That 1.9% discrepancy was notably lower than the gap seen in the 2000 Census. Read more


2010 Census: Hispanic Population More Than Doubles in Nine States

The nation’s Hispanic population rose to 50.5 million in the 2010 Census, and increased by 43% over the decade. A new analysis of 2010 Census data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, indicates that in nine states, the size of the Hispanic population more than doubled. They included the Southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina, as well as Maryland and South Dakota.

The Pew Hispanic Center analysis includes state rankings and totals for population, share of population and percent growth over the decade, both for all Hispanics and for children under age 18.


Census 2010 Counts 50,477,594 Hispanics

The Census Bureau has just released 2010 Census population figures for race groups and Hispanics, culminating state-by-state releases that began last month. Later today, the Pew Hispanic Center will release a short analysis of trends in growth and dispersion of the nation’s Latino population.



Census 2010 Counts of Hispanics Higher Than Expected

A Pew Hispanic Center analysis released today examines differences between Census 2010 counts of Hispanics and the Census Bureau’s population estimates of Hispanics in the 33 states for which detailed statistics have been released so far.

It finds that in 23 of those states, the census counts of Hispanics were at least 2% higher than expected. In three states, the totals were at least 2% under what had been expected from the population estimates. In seven states, the differences one way or the other was less than 2%.


New Zealand Cancels Its Census

New Zealand has canceled its planned 2011 census because of the major earthquake on the nation’s South Island on Feb. 22. The census, which is taken every five years, had been scheduled for March 8. Residents had the option of filling out forms online or on paper.

In canceling the census, government officials said it would be an unfair burden and a distraction to ask people to fill out census forms while they are dealing with the aftermath of the quake. They also cited damage to Statistics New Zealand offices with “extensive impact on census staff.”

The nation’s chief statistician, Geoff Bascand, said he and his staff would “investigate the feasibility of alternative options.” According to news accounts, Bascand said the nation’s Statistics Act must be amended in order for the census to be canceled because the law requires a census to be taken every five years.


Look It Up: Census 2010 Hispanic Population Counts for States and Counties

As the Census Bureau rolls out the 2010 population counts for Hispanics by state, a new 2010 Census data portal has been launched on the Pew Hispanic Center website. It includes 2010 and 2000 counts of the total population, non-Hispanic population and Hispanic population, as well as the Hispanic share of the population, for states and counties. Numeric and percentage change in the total and Hispanic populations also are included. The data can be downloaded in Excel format.

The Census Bureau began releasing detailed race and Hispanic totals state-by-state this month, and is scheduled to complete the process by April 1. As each state becomes available, data for that state and its counties will be posted on the Pew Hispanic Center website.


Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

People who turn to the Census Bureau’s latest data release in an effort to answer Sesame Street’s musical query may, in some cases, be puzzled by what they find. The detailed race, ethnicity and population counts make it easy to look up data for any block in America. But those numbers may not be completely accurate—and deliberately so.

A census block is the smallest unit of geography for which data are published, and blocks are the basis for assembling larger geographic entities such as legislative districts. Nationally, there are more than 11 million of them, housing on average 100 people. According to a Census Bureau description, blocks normally are bounded by streets, other prominent physical features or the boundaries of geographic areas. They may be as small as a city block or as sprawling as a 100-square-mile rural area.

The 2010 Census data being released on a state-by-state basis this month and next month, which will be used as the basis for redistricting, include counts down to the block level. Data for each block include counts not just of people in the six basic race groups, but also of people who checked any one of the dozens of multi-race combinations. The data also include counts for Hispanics and non-Hispanics in these dozens of race groups.

But what if there are only one or two people on a block who are in a different race or ethnic category from that of the other residents? In such a case, publication of this level of detail about every block in America runs the risk that a person or household could be identified individually, conflicting with the Census Bureau’s legal obligation to protect the privacy of respondents. Read more


2010 Census: Recent Resources

The Government Accountability Office, which had included the 2010 Census on its list of high-risk activities, updated that list this month and stated: “The Bureau generally completed its data collection activities consistent with its plans and released the data used to apportion Congress on December 21, 2010, several days ahead of the legally required end-of-year deadline.” Remaining activities “appear to be on track,” the agency said. Therefore, GAO stated, the 2010 Census is being removed from the high-risk list.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service, “The 2010 Decennial Census: Background and Issues,” reviews the purpose and methodology of the count and describes its field operations and problems. The report also describes ongoing or completed assessments of the census by the bureau and by other government entities.

The inspector general in the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, recently released its quarterly report to Congress on the 2010 Census, as well as a report on contracting practices.