Census numbers do not compute

The numbers just don’t quite add up.

That is the consensus among elected officials after 2010 census figures were released on Thursday, March 24. Queens’ numbers were perhaps most surprising, seeing an increase of only 0.1 percent in population over the past decade.

Rounding out the Census Bureau’s city results, Staten Island grew by 5.6 percent, the Bronx grew 3.9 percent, Manhattan went up 3.2 percent and Brooklyn rose just 1.6 percent.

The numbers were so surprising that on Sunday, March 27 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city will formally challenge the feds’ 2010 census by enacting the Count Question Resolution process. The program was created to address instances where state or local government feels an error was made.

“Our administration has been looking at the census numbers non-stop since they were released last Thursday,” said Bloomberg. “And we can now say that we plan to formally challenge the Census results for our city, under the Count Question Resolution process established by the Census Bureau. We believe that errors have occurred in putting together the census results for Brooklyn and Queens. It seems evident to us that something incongruous happened in the census count in these two boroughs.”

Borough President Helen Marshall said that she believes Queens’ low numbers have a lot to do with the borough’s large immigrant population – which she believes served to short change Queens in census counts both this year and in years past.

“Although my office formed a Complete Count Committee to increase participation in the census, I believe that many in our immigrant population still did not participate in the count due, in part, to privacy issues and language barriers,” said Marshall. “I believe that Queens has traditionally been undercounted and continues to be.”

The same day that the mayor declared the challenge, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer stood with other elected officials to question the census and support the mayor.

“Common sense is lacking in this census formula and before these numbers go to print there should be a serious review of this methodology that greatly affects our city’s funding,” said Van Bramer. “In a time where every penny counts New York City should not be shortchanged.”

The city as a whole saw numbers that don’t make sense. The Census Bureau’s 2010 numbers claim that there are 8,175,133 people in the city – that is an increase of only 2.1 percent. These numbers confused Bloomberg as much as the Queens numbers confused Marshall.

The low numbers worry the mayor because federal and state funds are determined according to population numbers. Such a low count means that the city is less likely to get the resources it needs for various programs.

“It is troublesome that with the undercounting, and we kept saying that, if you remember, we did lots of press conferences trying to get people to cooperate with the census, because our representation in both Albany and in Washington depends on how much, how many people we have, as does the amount of money for many programs that we get, both federal and state.”

It isn’t just about money coming in, according to some elected officials. Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. said that his district spent millions on the census – leaving him feeling short changed.

“I do not feel that the $15 million spent on the Census in my district produced an accurate reading of the population for the people I represent,” said Addabbo. “The statistics should be re-evaluated and I am hopeful that with a more defined population reading, we can qualify to receive our fair share of governmental funding for services that benefit the people of our communities.”

Click here for The Queens Courier editorial on the census

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