Addressing Concerns about 2010 Population Counts

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

With the completion of each census, as local officials examine the just-delivered population counts, many are disappointed. They are totally focused on strengthening and building their communities, and many view the size of the population as evidence of their success. They have also learned the lessons that political representation and program funding are linked to population counts.

Hence, when the population counts don’t meet their expectations about their population size they have real concerns.

We at the Census Bureau, from our evaluations of past censuses, know that no Census of the US is perfect. Indeed, we know from studying the evaluations of censuses around the world, that no other census has achieved a perfect count. What we attempt to do is provide multiple opportunities for every US resident to participate in the census, in search of that perfection. If the paper questionnaire is not returned by mail we visit the address many times over days and weeks, in an attempt to count everyone accurately.

The Census Bureau has sponsored a program for some decades that reviews the concerns that local officials raise about their counts – the Count Question Resolution program. This year the program begins on June 1, 2011 and extends through June 1, 2013.

There are three types of corrections that can occur through the Count Question Resolution program:

  • Boundary—These challenges may address the inaccurate reporting or the inaccurate recording of boundaries legally in effect on January 1, 2010. The Census Bureau needs to ensure that the geographic assignment information provided by governmental units does not, in fact, reflect boundary changes made after January 1, 2010.
  • Geocoding— These challenges identify suspected errors in the geographic location of living quarter addresses within the governmental unit boundaries and census tabulation blocks.
  • Coverage—These challenges, if upheld by the Census Bureau, result in the addition or deletion of specific living quarters and persons associated with them identified during the census process, but which were erroneously included as duplicates or excluded due to processing errors.

We ask the local officials to submit to us a list of addresses that they believe were misprocessed in the 2010 Census.

For the 2000 Census, 1,183 of the approximate 39,000 jurisdictions submitted questions to the program. There were many small changes that occurred throughout the country, but the net effect was to add 2,697 persons to the previously reported population total of 281,421,906. Thus, finding evidence of large shifts due to the three types of errors above was difficult in 2000.

Whatever happens during Count Question Resolution, we seek to be cooperative, honest, and transparent in what we do.

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7 Responses to Addressing Concerns about 2010 Population Counts

  1. Stephen R. Higley Ph.D. says:

    The extremely wealthy Census Designated Place of Fishers Island, of the Southern tip of Miami Beach had 498 housing units in the 2000 Census. The 2005-9 American Community Survey said there were 695. The 2010 Census counted 226. This is absurd on the face of it. These are multi-million dollar condos and the island is built-out. Anyone looking on Google Maps can see that more than 50% of the units have not been torn down.
    There is no one to speak out for the millionaires on Fisher Island as it is unincorporated. How could there be such a huge mistake?

  2. This may have been the least accurate Census ever! I definitely agree with Michael Bloomberg’s disappointment! Only 1,300 more people in Queens for the past 10 years? I can assure you Census Bureau, Michael Bloomberg’s dispute for New York City’s April 1, 2010 population being 8,175,133 is going to be fierce!

  3. I think so this may have been the least accurate Census ever!

  4. 1300 in ten years is not much even for small towns

  5. Inaccuracies are always a likely outcome of population census!

  6. Jill Coghlan says:

    Re: AFF-2
    I was disappointed to notice that there is no Blog section for AFF-2. I continue to keep being disappointed, and thus have many concerns about Census moving to AFF-2, without retaining the original discrete choices which are possible in original-AFF. AND …
    (1) It is absurd not to be trialing ACS data (such a huge, gooey mass of data), when planning to move to AFF-2 as the single, future platform.
    (2) On the morning of June 13, I had one successful session, and then when trying again — the session did not complete — the “overlay” screen would not take my selected items, and “Add” them to the main page.
    (2) Then the feedback page also didn’t work, in order to file a complaint.
    (3) I don’t believe that people will read through 4-5 sheets of items, which exist already for Census-2000 data, before you add ACS and the up-coming 2010 data.
    (4) So yes, it’s in the Google model, so younger generations may feel more comfortable with it — but if your Search Web designers were trying to destroy the integrity of Census data, they have only to continue with AFF-2 in this shape — and horrible functionality.
    Jill Coghlan, Research Specialist
    Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis
    University of Connecticut

  7. Andi says:

    I think the outcome may have been the least accurate Census ever!

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