By Christopher anderson
WASHINGTON – The 2000 Census may have missed more than 73,000 Marylanders, most of whom were minorities, according published accounts on data the Census Bureau was forced to release last week under court order.
The Census Bureau warned that the adjusted figures are “severely flawed,” and Maryland officials said they will not likely use the new numbers for any state planning purposes.
But officials in some of the state’s largest jurisdictions said the numbers support a claim they have been making all along, that the census typically undercounts poor and minority residents of urban areas.
State and local officials are in the process of requesting and analyzing the adjusted data. But they said they expect most of the undercounting was in urban areas, including Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Baltimore City, for example, recently challenged the Census Bureau estimate of the city’s 2001 population, using housing data to show that the city was not losing as many residents as the federal estimate showed. The Census recently to revise its 2001 city population estimate from 635,210 to 645,305.
“Our data supported a number that was 10,095 higher than what the census estimated (in 2001),” said Baltimore City planner Paul Barrett. No challenge to the official 2000 headcount is planned.
Officials in the Washington suburbs said they expect to have high numbers of undercounted residents as well.
Montgomery County’s chief demographer, Drew Dedrick, said the county will likely account for a significant portion of the state’s undercounted individuals because of the large immigrant population in Montgomery.
“We know the percent of undocumented aliens is fairly significant,” Dedrick said. “Statisticians tend to associate those with legal populations, because they tend to intermingle.”
Barrett said undercounting is not a new problem in places like Baltimore City and Montgomery County.
“It’s the same problem they’ve had forever in most urban areas,” he said, “any place that it would be really hard to do a door-to-door (enumeration).”
Some demographers have called on the Census Bureau to use statistical sampling to get a more accurate count of the nation than a simple door-to-door count can provide. But Commerce Secretary Don Evans last year ordered that only official Census 2000 data — and not the statistically adjusted numbers — could be used for redistricting and other government purposes.
The Supreme Court has agreed that adjusted numbers cannot be used to redraw voting districts or distribute federal dollars. But a federal appeals court recently ruled that the adjusted numbers had to be made public.
The adjusted figures put Maryland’s estimated population in 2000 at 5,369,862, about 1.4 percent more than the official enumeration of 5,296,486, according to analyses by the Associated Press and USAToday.
Census Bureau officials released the adjusted numbers with a warning that they “were determined to be so severely flawed that all potential uses of these data would be inappropriate.”
Jane Traynham, data center manager for the Maryland Department of Planning, said that while she expects to have the data analyzed within the next few days, she does not anticipate any of the new figures will be used for state planning purposes.
“The census bureau is basically saying, ‘We think the data is flawed,’ so we probably won’t be using it here,” Traynham said.