Winners, losers: The 2000 census results were good news for Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas: Each state gained two seats in the House of Representatives, thanks to population gains. Illinois, Ohio, and New York lost seats. For 2010, experts predict that the Northeast will lose four congressional seats and the Midwest will shed six, with five seats apiece heading to the South and West.
million census forms will be
mailed out. If you don’t
reply, expect to hear from
one of the Census Bureau’s
1.4 million temporary hires.
No citizen left behind? Accuracy is a big issue. In one study, the U.S. Census Monitoring Board used projections and statistical sampling of the 2000 census to determine that the final tally missed three million people, causing the District of Columbia and 31 states to lose $4.1 billion in federal funding. This drives Democrats nuts, since the undercounted are most likely to be part of their constituency: poor people and minorities, who might be difficult to track down or wary of government.
Math and class: Given that one person’s statistical-sampling-based projections are another’s agenda-driven cooking of the books, Republicans have resisted efforts to adjust census results using mathematical tools. On the traditionalists’ side: the U.S. Constitution, which in mandating a census called for an “actual enumeration,” not a guesstimate.
Count me out: In June, Michele Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, vowed not to fully respond to the 2010 census, calling it government intrusion. Participation, however, isn’t optional. Failure to fill out the census form is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000. (Wrongful disclosure of confidential information, on the other hand, is a felony.)
The seed of controversy: Census “partners” help in counting harder-to-reach groups. One, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), proved especially divisive—even before an undercover video surfaced, showing its workers offering advice to brothel owners on passing off underage prostitutes as legal dependents.
Measure for Measure: A snapshot of the tallies, then and now
Number in 1790: 650
Number in 2010: 650,000
67%: Mail-in response rate for 2000 census, after declining from 78 percent in 1970
Amount the government saves in door-to-door census worker salaries with each 1 percent increase in mail-in response rate.
1880: First year included on census forms
2010: First year same-sex married couples allowed to declare
Cities with the biggest gains, 2000–2008
… and with the biggest losses
79: Percentage of people living in an urban area in 2000—up from 51 percent in 1920
An Early Look
Trends for 2010
The Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey offers specifics you won’t find in the 2010 census. Some highlights:
- For the first time in a decade, the total number of foreign-born residents did not grow.
- The share of people who have never married increased 4 percent from 2000 to 2008.
- Real median household income declined nationwide, ranging from $37,790 in Mississippi to $70,545 in Maryland.
- The median price of a home fell to $197,600, with the biggest declines in Nevada and California.