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Boston to challenge 2020 Census numbers

The city will file a formal challenge to the federal government's conclusion that Boston had a population of 675,647 in 2020 - less than city estimates had put it previously and possibly due in part to local colleges emptying out temporarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The census numbers are important because they help determine everything from federal aid to the shape of districts for elected offices.

City Councilor Liz Breadon, who represents student-heavy Allston/Brighton, said she's particularly perplexed at Allston's purported 5.9% decrease in total population despite years of construction of multi-family housing. The decrease includes a 40% decrease in the neighborhood's "group quarters population," which includes college students.

The city will also challenge the Census Bureau's counts for immigrants and jail inmates.

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"...the U.S. Census Bureau must respect how people identify themselves racially and ethnically. The Census must consider simplifying categorization, particularly for Latino, Brazilian, Middle Eastern and North African respondents, to correctly capture our demographics."

It's comical how politicians have a problem that people marked themselves as "other" or "two or more races" instead of being more specific.

Voting closed 2

The census reclassified people without their consent.

In 2020, the Census reclassified the collection and processing of race and ethnicity data which led to large increases in the “some other race” and “two more races” categories independent of actual demographic or cultural changes. Following this self-reported data on the population’s race and Hispanic origin, the Census Bureau recategorizes this information following prescribed definitions developed in 1997 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This recent race and ethnicity reclassification, paired with the Census’s recategorization process, heavily impacted Boston’s data.

As a result of this Census coding, 76 percent of Hispanics in Boston chose (or were assigned) the “some other race” category, either by itself or in addition to other racial categories, up from 45 percent of Hispanics in 2010. Additionally, respondents listing Brazilian or Cape Verdean origin were reassigned by the U.S. Census Bureau to the “some other race”

Under 2019 1-year American Community Survey (a subsidiary of the Census Bureau) Estimates Brockton was 50.9% Black non-Hispanic, 53.9% Black including Hispanics, and 55.9% Black including Hispanics and mixed race.

In the census, Brockton came out as only 35.0% Black. How is that possible when it has been listed over 40% black by every estimate since 2014? Not likely the Census is accurate. Just off an eye test brockton is cleary closer to 50% black than 35.0%.

Source actual cold, hard data: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=brockton,%20ma&tid=ACSDP1Y2019.DP05

Also, I do demography for a living, like all day long...

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Self identification should not be an issue, and I don't know why it is here because the American Community Survey does a much better job of estimating ethnic and racial populations on a yearly basis.

Specifics do matter, however. African Americans are a distinct population from African Immigrants in terms of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Hispanic is a very broad category, and the differences do matter in terms of language, culture, immigration status historical marginalization, etc.

In "the good old days" where census takers would walk the streets and knock on doors, these sorts of data were far less reliable. I have looked in census records that are old enough to be released to the public and found some really interesting characterizations of the perceived race of my maternal grandparents and great-grandparents. My Native American and Celtic grandfather was variously pegged as "mexican", "middle eastern" and "white". My grandmother was "mulatto" and "octaroon" and then "white" once she started working indoors instead of outdoors.

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The issue is with total count, not how the 11 or so questions were answered.

For college towns, this is a big issue, as group quarters and similar living venues emptied out just before Census Day. Yet another Covid headache.

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The issue is with total count,

There can be more than one issue.

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At the end of the day, the total count is the only issue.

The count is used for apportionment, so to get districts that are roughly the same size, the total count is key.

Federal grants are based on the total count from the decennial census, so total count is key. Just ask Chelsea.

Everything else is noise. Interesting noise, mind you- the idea that Arab was proposed then rejected as a racial group for the 2020 census was a fascinating discussion- but in the end, noise.

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And students weren’t residing in Boston then why would they be counted.

The census is an estimate of actual numbers, not hypothetical. “If colleges were open” is a hypothetical.

Also if we adjusted the number to account for college being close, these people would need to be removed from other localities.

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The survey asks where you would normally be living on April 1, 2020. For instance, if in the alternative universe you were on a business trip to Atlanta that ran from March 30 to April 3, you would have physically been in Atlanta on April 1, but that would not be your normal place of residence, so it is not where you should be counted as residing there.

In theory, all of the college students that were sent home in mid-March 2020 would have been living in their dormitories or wherever in Boston on April 1.

And yes, the Census Bureau has a system to deal with people who were counted twice, so all the kids who went back to Long Island should not have been counted as Long Island residents.

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The survey asks where you would normally be living on April 1, 2020

The survey didn't ask that. It asked specifically where you were living on April 1. The exact wording of census questions are a big deal. The House even passed a bill recently to make sure census questions can't be altered without Congressional approval.

The census bureau did give colleges the chance to "claim" their students, but that only worked for students not counted anywhere else. i.e. if your parents in Long Island included you on their census form, then you were counted in Long Island, not in Boston.

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The 2020 census should have been postponed due to the pandemic. TFG though it was in his best interest to hold the census when blue states were more concerned with keeping their residents safe than assuring an accurate census count.

These census numbers are bogus and I agree we need a do-over.

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as well as a reapportionment of the House based on the decennial census. That makes it difficult to postpone.

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Ron already said it, but came here to add that the census is one of many things mandated or specified in the Constitution for which there is no provision allowing a do-over. Maybe we should think about that, but honestly, we couldn't even pass the ERA, so...

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The Constitutional requirement is every 10 years, which is why it had to happen in 2020. But the Constitution does not prohibit more frequent census taking. Another census could be done, with sufficient political will. The likelihood of it ever happening is about as likely as me being offered a major league baseball contract, but it is technically possible.

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