Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2001

Census tally missed about 1% of U.S. population, sample finds

February 15, 2001


— The 2000 census counted more people and missed fewer minorities and children than the 1990 tally, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data suggests that between 2.7 million and 4 million people from 1 percent to 1.4 percent of the U.S. population were not counted in the recent headcount, held once every 10 years. That's down from 1.6 percent or 4 million people who were missed in the 1990 Census, which was the first to be less accurate than its predecessor.

The national headcount found that 281 million people live in the United States. To check the accuracy of that count, the bureau analyzes the numbers several different ways. The numbers released Wednesday come from that accuracy check.

Later this month, a panel of bureau experts will decide whether to statistically adjust national population totals to account for people who were missed. The process is known as sampling because the figures come from a survey sample group rather than a headcount.

The population data is important because it helps determine the boundaries of state and national political districts. It also helps determine where some $185 billion in federal funds will be distributed. Places with more people generally get more money.

Because the new figures don't say where people may have been missed in the census, there's no way to tell which areas stand to lose the most in funding.

The preliminary data found that between 1.6 percent and 2.7 percent of blacks were missed in the 2000 Census compared with 4.5 percent in 1990.

In 1990, the census was estimated to have missed about 5 percent of America's Hispanics; the survey released Wednesday said the 2000 count missed between 2.2 and 3.5 percent. The 1990 count missed 0.7 percent of whites, the 2000 tally did not count between .44 and .90 percent.

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