(Under) Counting Queens: Census 2010

Recently released census results for New York left some local officials fuming. They purport to show that NYC has only grown by 167,000 people since 2000.

“The numbers are dead wrong,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “It makes you wonder if the Census Bureau is living on a different planet.”

The numbers are about more than just pride. The decennial census determines how up to $4 trillion dollars in federal grants, for things like social services, are apportioned to the state, and ultimately cities. Each uncounted individual costs their state, on average, up to $30,000 over ten years in lost federal funding.

There are several possibilities for what could have occurred. One, is that people’s anecdotal evidence about growth in New York City is just wrong. A second, is that there was indeed an under count. Brooklyn and Queens both had smaller than expected increases (the latter, only 0.1% over the decade) and have large numbers of recent immigrants, who are historically under counted. Jackson Heights, one neighborhood in Queens, has more Hispanics than any other ethnic group.

Mayor Bloomberg, on behalf of the city, filed a formal challenge to the results, which will be considered by the Census Bureau in June 2011.

Local NYC officials, professors and citizens shared their perspectives on the count’s accuracy, and what might have happened.

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