WASHINGTON – More than 75,000 Maryland residents were likely missed in the 2000 census, according to one estimate, a shortfall that could cost the state millions in federal funds that are based on population.
The U.S. Census Monitoring Board said Wednesday that the census missed 75,204 people in Maryland, the 13th-highest undercount rate in the nation.
The Census Bureau conceded in February that it may have missed about 3.3 million people nationwide in the census, results of which it began releasing in March. But while it concedes a nationwide undercount, the bureau warned against trying to break down that number by city and state.
The national undercount rate of about 1.2 percent is an improvement over the 1990 undercount of about 1.6 percent of the population.
For Maryland, the monitoring board’s estimated undercount is also better than in 1990, when the census said it missed 100,000 people, or 2.1 percent of the population. The 2000 undercount rate in Maryland was estimated at 1.4 percent.
But the undercount could still mean millions of dollars lost, since federal funding depends largely on population.
“These numbers influence welfare programs, social services and many other projects,” said Elizabeth Humphrey, a spokeswoman for the state’s planning department.
“Those undercounted are the people who need service assistance the most.”
Humphrey said Baltimore City would likely be hardest hit by an undercount, because it is heavily populated with minorities who are most often overlooked by the census.
It is too early to predict how much money, if any, the state might lose from an undercount. But the state estimated that it lost more than $100 million a year in federal funds because of the 100,000 missed by the 1990 census. About 65 percent of that “lost” money would have gone to Baltimore.
“We know millions of people were missed, we know where they live, and for the most part, we know they are disproportionately minority,” said Gilbert F. Casellas, presidential co-chair of the monitoring board.
Some of the federal programs tied to population include those that give federal dollars to high-poverty school districts, health care funding and job training programs.
“Thousands of people who qualify for these services will never get these services because of the undercounts,” said Charles Christian, an urban geography professor at the University of Maryland.
Allan Lichtman, an American University history professor who has done extensive research on undercounting for the census monitoring board, said people missed by the census would affect Maryland in “every way.”
“Policies are affected by the census figures” in aaddition to the allocation of federal dollars, Lichtman said. “The 75,000 people not counted . . . will force the state to lose a substantial amount of money.”
But Census Bureau officials said specific state and city undercount numbers, this soon after the release of the census, are not reliable.
“It is important to note that the Census Bureau is not in a position to release a final estimate for any state or city, and believes that the most accurate data currently available are the unadjusted data already released,” said William G. Barron, the acting bureau director, in a prepared statement.
Barron said the methodology that the monitoring board used to calculate the undercounted figures was “seriously flawed,” even though both parties came up with the same undercounted figure nationwide.
The bureau is doing its own analysis of the undercount, but is not ready to release that information yet, Barron said.