My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Archive for March, 2009

Fastest Growing Metro Areas

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Today, a press release from the U.S. Census Bureau announced which were America’s fastest growing metro areas. There are no major surprises here, other than that New Orleans is rapidly regrowing after losing much of its population in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It’s important to remember that these estimates are from July 1, 2008, before the stock market hit its lowest points to date and the economy fell into shambles. Thus, migrations away from areas where jobs are lacking (like the LA Metro Area and New York City) have likely changed some of these numbers, but aren’t reflected in data for mid-2008.

Here’s the press release:
Raleigh and Austin are Fastest-Growing Metro Areas

Raleigh-Cary, N.C., and Austin-Round Rock, Texas, were the nation’s
fastest-growing metro areas between 2007 and 2008, according to July 1,
2008, population estimates for the nation’s metropolitan and micropolitan
statistical areas and counties released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Raleigh-Cary saw its population climb 4.3 percent between July 1, 2007,
and July 1, 2008, to 1.1 million. Similarly, Austin-Round Rock experienced
a 3.8 percent increase, to 1.7 million.  These two large metro areas were
among 47 of the 50 fastest-growing areas located entirely in the South or
West. (Table 1)

Large metro areas — those with 2008 populations of 1 million or more —
were home to
nine of the 10 fastest-growing counties. These metros included New Orleans,
which contains
St. Bernard Parish (the nation’s fastest-growing county between 2007 and
2008) and neighboring Orleans Parish (the country’s third-fastest-growing
county). The nation’s second-fastest-growing county in 2008 was Pinal in
Arizona (part of the Phoenix metro area).

The Chicago metro area was home to the fourth-fastest-growing county,
Kendall, and
the Atlanta metro area was home to fifth-ranked Forsyth County. In Texas,
the Austin metro
area was the location of sixth-ranked Williamson and 10th-ranked Hays, San
Antonio includes
eighth-ranked Kendall, and Dallas-Fort Worth includes ninth-ranked
Rockwall. Only seventh-ranked Geary, Kan., did not belong to a large metro
area.

All in all, 94 of the 100 counties (with a population of 10,000 or more)
with the fastest population growth last year were in either the South (71
counties) or the West (23 counties). The remaining six were in the Midwest.
(Table 2)

Numeric Growth

Four metro areas increased their populations by more than 100,000 people
from 2007 to 2008: Dallas-Fort Worth (147,000), Houston (130,000), Phoenix
(116,000) and Atlanta (115,000). Los Angeles (88,000) ranked fifth. (Table
3) Four of the five counties with the largest numeric gains were in one of
these metro areas: top-gaining Maricopa County, Ariz. (which accounted for
90,000 of the Phoenix metro gain), Harris County, Texas (contributing
72,000 of the Houston metro gain), Los Angeles County, Calif. (54,000 of
the Los Angeles metro gain) and Tarrant County, Texas (accounting for
41,000 of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro gain). (Table 4)

Among the 10 counties that added the largest number of residents during
the period,
four were in Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and
Orange), three were in Texas (Harris, Tarrant and Bexar), and one each was
in Arizona (Maricopa), Nevada (Clark) and North Carolina (Wake).

Most Populous Metro Areas and Counties

The most populous metro areas on July 1, 2008, were New York (19.0
million people),
Los Angeles (12.9 million) and Chicago (9.6 million). (Table 5) Fourteen
metro areas had populations of 4 million or more. The most populous
counties were Los Angeles
(9.9 million), Cook (5.3 million and part of the Chicago metro) and Harris
(4.0 million and part of the Houston metro). Overall, 12 counties had
populations of 2 million or more. (Table 6)

As of July 1, 2008, the nation’s 363 metro areas contained 254.2 million
people —
83.6 percent of the total population. Of these areas, 313 gained and 50
lost population between 2007 and 2008. Among the nation’s 3,142 counties,
1,974 gained population, 1,161 lost and seven remained unchanged.

Other highlights:

2007-2008:

Counties
– Among the 100 fastest-growing counties, the majority were in Texas (19),
Georgia (14), North Carolina (11) or Utah (nine).
– Texas was home to 10 counties among the 25 with the highest numerical
gains and California to six. Each of the top 25 was in the South or West,
with the exception of Cook, Ill. (Chicago).
– Five counties were among both the 25 fastest-growing and the 25 top
numerical gainers: Pinal, Ariz.; Orleans, La.; Williamson, Texas; Fort
Bend, Texas; and Wake, N.C.

Metro Areas
– Four of the 10 fastest-growing metro areas were in Utah and Idaho:
Provo-Orem and St. George in Utah, Idaho Falls in Idaho, and Logan, which
encompasses parts of Utah and Idaho.

Micro Areas
– The fastest-growing micro areas were Safford, Ariz., and Andrews, Texas,
growing by 4.1 and 4.0 percent, respectively.
– Twenty-seven of the 50 fastest-growing micro areas were in the South, 21
in the West and two in the Midwest.
– Overall, 397 of the 577 U.S. micro areas gained and 180 lost population
between 2007 and 2008.

Puerto Rico
– San Juan was the most populous metro area in Puerto Rico, at 2.6 million
in 2008. It also had the highest numeric gain on the island (8,600) from
2007 to 2008. The San Juan metro area contained the municipio with the
largest population in 2008 (San Juan, at 423,000), the one with the largest
numeric gain from 2007 to 2008 (Toa Alta, with 2,200) and the
fastest-growing (Florida, at 2.9 percent).

2000-2008:

Metro Areas
– Between April 1, 2000, and July 1, 2008, the fastest-growing metro area
was Palm Coast, Fla., increasing by 83.1 percent. (Its single county,
Flagler, was the second-fastest growing county.) Four western metro areas
(St. George, Utah; Provo-Orem, Utah; Greeley, Colo.; and Bend, Ore.)
rounded out the five fastest-growing metro areas. Three of the 10
fastest-growing metro areas had 2008 populations of 1 million or more:
Raleigh (sixth), Las Vegas (seventh) and Austin (10th).
– Four metro areas had numeric gains of more than 1 million over the
period: Dallas-Fort Worth (1.14 million), Atlanta (1.13 million), Phoenix
(1.03 million) and Houston (1.01 million). Riverside-San
Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., which gained 861,000, ranked fifth.

Counties
– Eight of the 10 fastest-growing counties between April 1, 2000, and July
1, 2008, were located in metro areas with 2008 populations of 2 million or
more. The exceptions were Flagler, Fla., and Lincoln, S.D. (a county within
the Sioux Falls metro area). The fastest-growing county during the period
was Kendall, Ill. (part of the Chicago metro area), which grew by 89.6
percent. Three of the top 10 counties were part of the Atlanta metro area:
Forsyth, sixth, at 70.8 percent; Paulding, eighth, at 63.2 percent; and
Henry, ninth, at 60.5 percent.
– The three counties with the largest numeric gains over the period were
found in top gaining metro areas: Maricopa, Ariz. (which contributed
882,000 of Phoenix’s gain); Harris, Texas (which accounted for 584,000 of
Houston’s gain); and Riverside, Calif. (contributing 555,000 of
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario’s gain).
– Maricopa’s gain since Census 2000 exceeded the population of six states.

The Census Bureau’s Internet tables show July 1 population estimates for
2000 through 2008, as well as the April 1, 2000, census counts. Also
included are rankings and estimates of components of population change
(births, deaths, net domestic migration and net international migration)
for all metro areas, micro areas and counties. The county-level data in
this news release on percent change apply only to those with total
populations of 10,000 or more.

-X-

The county and municipio resident population estimates are calculated using
administrative records to estimate components of population change, such as
births, deaths, domestic and international migration. The estimates reflect
changes to the Census 2000 population resulting from legal boundary
updates, other geographic program changes and Count Question Resolution
(CQR) actions.  (The CQR Program was an administrative review program that
handled external challenges to particular official Census 2000 counts.)

All geographic boundaries for the July 1, 2008, population estimates series
are defined as of Jan. 1, 2008. The Office of Management and Budget’s
statistical area definitions (for metro and micro areas) are those issued
by that agency in November 2007. Metro areas contain at least one urbanized
area of 50,000 or more population and micro areas contain at least one
urban cluster of at least 10,000 (but less than 50,000) population. Both
metro and micro areas consist of one or more whole counties or county
equivalents. Some metro area titles are abbreviated in the text of the news
release. Full titles are shown in the tables.

Official reponse to MyTwoCensus from the Census Bureau over ACORN issues…

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Stephen L. Buckner of the U.S. Census Bureau wrote the following to us:

“Any charge or claim that a Census Bureau partner could influence or have
direct input into census operations is baseless and inaccurate. The sole
entity that will conduct the 2010 Census is the U.S. Census Bureau, along
with its hundreds of thousands of dedicated workers.

Further, the Census Bureau has strict quality assurance procedures in every
operation to prevent the introduction of errors and/or fraudulent
information into the national count.

The Census Bureau remains committed to producing an accurate 2010 Census
count — counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place.”

More analysis coming tomorrow as we mull over this response…

Looking pale? Move to Charleston, West Virginia

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

We knew West Virginia had to be good at something…apparently that something is tanning booths per capita. Check out this article from the Charleston Daily Mail:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s capital is the easiest place in the nation to work on an indoor tan, according to a new study.

The study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found 18 tanning salons in Charleston. Using the 2000 Census estimate of 53,000 residents, the study found that’s the highest ratio in the 116 U.S. cities studied.

San Diego State University public health researchers say the use of tanning lamps has been linked to two types of skin cancer. Their study estimates that 20 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 have used indoor tanning booths in the past year.

Tanning salon density tends to be higher in chillier cities like Portland, Maine, with 16 facilities for a population of 64,000, and Providence, R.I., which has 41 salons for its 173,000 residents.

The study found that cities with low salon-to-resident density tend to be in warm, sunny states, but there are exceptions: Scottsdale, Ariz., has the highest ratio in the West, with 44 salons for 202,000 residents.

West Virginia is one of several states with pending legislation that would restrict the use of indoor tanning facilities. A Senate bill would require parental consent for anyone under 18 using a tanning salon, and for anyone under 14 to be accompanied by a parent.

Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, is one of the bill’s sponsors. The physician said that he’s treated patients with skin cancer, and that the parental consent proposal makes sense.

“These types of cancer are definitely on the rise, for a number of reasons, and indoor tanning is part of that,” he said.

In general, the industry agrees. Many insurance companies already require tanning salons to get parental consent for minors seeking to use the lamps, said John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association.

“What we typically tell legislators is that you don’t have to tell these businesses to do this, because they’re doing it anyway,” he said.

Overstreet said there are similar bills currently before other state legislatures, although some are more strict than the West Virginia bill. A proposed bill in Texas would ban teens from tanning salons unless they have a doctor’s note and a parent present, a proposal industry officials oppose.

Gary Locke, soon-to-be Commerce Secretary…

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Today, former Washington Governor Gary Locke (D) began his confirmation hearings to become the new Commerce Secretary. There is no doubt that he will be grilled by members (from the GOP) about his role in coordinating the 2010 Census. Our buddy Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post’s Federal Eye Blog posted a list of questions that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) thinks should be asked to Locke:

• In the past, GAO has reported lessons learned from satellite acquisitions such as underestimating program costs and the unanticipated expansion of the program’s scope. What specific large-scale acquisitions have you been involved in? Have acquisitions you have been involved in experienced cost overruns or expansions in scope? What lessons have you learned from your prior experiences that will ensure that future acquisitions, such as the GOES-R program, do not also experience similar problems?

• The 2010 Census is less than two years away. What do you think are the key challenges facing its managers, and what advice would you give them to help overcome those challenges?

• The bureau plans to spend an estimated $3 billion on IT investments for the 2010 Census. Management of these large investments will be important to the success of the Decennial Census. Do you have experience overseeing or managing such large contracts? What do you think is most important to ensuring that IT contracts meet expected cost, schedule, and performance?

• Many agencies are involved in the data collection and dissemination of federal statistics, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Do you have experiences with significant data sharing among statistical agencies? How would you balance data sharing with concerns about privacy and confidentiality?

FOXNews Headline: ACORN to Play Role in 2010 Census

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

MyTwoCensus is waiting on a response from the Census Bureau to our list of questions that will help up determine the validity of this statement. Here are our questions:

1. Is it possible that current/former ACORN workers will be/have been hired by the Census Bureau?

2. What was the agreement signed in February 2009 between the Bureau and ACORN?

3. Hasn’t recruiting for the 2010 count already ended? Hasn’t testing already finished? If so, why was ACORN brought on to be involved with this process so late in the game?

4. Are there any factual inaccuracies in the FoxNews report?

In our initial call to Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner, he indicated that beyond the inflammatory headline of the article, there isn’t much substance to the article. He was quick to stress that the decennial headcount will only be conducted by employees of the federal government, not third parties (like community organizations).

From the article:

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now signed on as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau in February 2009 to assist with the recruitment of the 1.4 million temporary workers needed to go door-to-door to count every person in the United States — currently believed to be more than 306 million people.

A U.S. Census “sell sheet,” an advertisement used to recruit national partners, says partnerships with groups like ACORN ”play an important role in making the 2010 Census successful,” including by “help[ing] recruit census workers.”

The bureau is currently employing help from more than 250 national partners, including TARGET and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to assist in the hiring effort.

But ACORN’s partnership with the 2010 Census is worrisome to lawmakers who say past allegations of fraud should raise concerns about the organization.

“It’s a concern, especially when you look at all the different charges of voter fraud. And it’s not just the lawmakers’ concern. It should be the concern of every citizen in the country,” Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland, R-Ga., vice ranking member of the subcommittee for the U.S. Census, told FOXNews.com. “We want an enumeration. We don’t want to have any false numbers.”

The U.S. Census Bureau has refuted any suggestions that ACORN or any other groups will fraudulently and unduly influence the results of the census.

“The Census (Bureau) is a nonpartisan, non-political agency and we’re very dedicated to an accurate account,” bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner told FOXNews.com. “We have a lot of quality controls in place to keep any kind of systemic error or fraudulent behavior to affect the counts.”

Buckner said the bureau received an overwhelming number of qualified applicants — more than 1 million — for the 140,000 census taker jobs filled to complete the first phase of the effort. Each applicant, he said, must take a basic skills exam, which includes reading a map and entering data into a handheld computer. Applicants are also subject to an FBI background check, he said.

But Buckner acknowledged that it is difficult to track an applicant’s political background.

“I have no way of tracking any of that information,” he said. “If somebody comes in to a position with a political agenda and their work exhibits that, there are rules against that,” he said.

Buckner stressed the need for organizations like ACORN to assist in the effort, saying that “any group that has a grassroots organization that can help get the word out that we have jobs” is helpful.

In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau had 140,000 partnerships from “national organizations to local and community organizations to elected officials,” he said. “The list is as broad as the phone book.”

Too little too late: 2007 Economic Census data released today

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Today, as stock markets around the world have tumbled and the state of industry in America is at its worst since the Great Depression, the U.S. Census Bureau released its first report from the 2007 Economic Census. Unfortunately, the two year lag between data collection and releasing the numbers means that many of the results no longer have significant value to American business interests.

From the report:

  • Wholesale trade, manufacturing, and retail trade remained the largest sectors in the U.S. economy. Wholesale trade businesses reported more than $5.9 trillion in receipts in 2007. This was an increase of nearly 28 percent from the $4.6 trillion reported in 2002.
  • Manufacturers reported shipments of more than $5.3 trillion in 2007, an increase of more than $1.4 trillion from the $3.9 trillion reported in 2002. This was the largest increase among all sectors covered in the economic census. Over the same period, the manufacturing sector experienced a loss of more than 1.3 million jobs, falling to 13.3 million; this was the second largest decrease of any sector.
  • Food, petroleum and chemicals accounted for more than 56 percent of the growth in the manufacturing sector ($812 billion of the $1.4 trillion increase) from 2002 to 2007. Apparel, plastics and rubber products, and computers and electronic products made up more than 36 percent (478,574) of the 1.3 million-person decline in manufacturing employment from 2002 to 2007.
  • The health care and social assistance sector continued to have the most employees with nearly 17 million in 2007, an increase of more than 12 percent from 2002.
  • Among the service-related sectors, employees in the information sector earned the highest average payroll per employee in 2007 ($64,871). The accommodation and food services sector reported the lowest payroll per employee in 2007 ($14,649).

Data from the 2007 Economic Census will be released over a two-year period, through June 2011, and will be available in American FactFinder, the Census Bureau’s online data access tool. These data primarily cover the nation’s 7 million businesses with paid employees. Separate data on the 21 million businesses without paid employees will be released in mid-2009.

New Challenges for Minorities in 2010 Census

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Today, the Associate Press issued a report about the impact of the 2010 Census on minorities. This translates to: HOW TO COUNT ILLEGAL (UNDOCUMENTED) IMMIGRANTS. This is just another example of the mainstream media side-stepping what has shaped up to be the most divisive issue of the decennial headcount.

From the article:

Anti-immigration groups don’t object to an accurate count, which may provide fuel for their arguments. But they are opposed to the past practice of suspending immigration raids while the census is being conducted. And they have major objections to counting non-citizens when drawing congressional districts.

Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, called the practice “an assault on the ‘one man, one vote’ idea.”

“It transfers political power to the citizens who live in districts with high numbers of illegal aliens,” he said. “If you live in Southern California, your vote counts a great deal more than if you live in Michigan or somewhere with lower immigration.”

Ensuring that the maximum number of minorities are counted “seems to be a much bigger issue for the ethnic interest groups and advocacy groups, because that’s how they build their interests and political power,” said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Those interest groups point out that everyone suffers if undercounting leads to less funding for schools, roads or hospitals.

“If you go back to your district, regardless of how many people there are citizens or voters, when you’re counting one million and need to count two, this has a huge impact on whether you can deliver services for your voters,” said Efrain Escobedo, senior director of civic engagement for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

Will the Administration’s Census Policy Put Politics above Science?

Monday, March 16th, 2009

An article by Douglas O’Brien in today’s American Thinker, a conservative blog, raises valid questions about how the Obama administration’s census policy may affect the final census tally. O’Brien’s best point is that statisticians disagree about how to properly account/compensate for potential inaccuracies during the data collection process. Highlight of the article:

There is no consensus on the best formula for population sampling.  Statisticians admit that there is an error factor in every sampling-based population estimate that could be used.  How big an error factor is (yes, indeed) only an estimate.  But when the methodology being used is being selected and approved by the advocates oozing conflicts of interest, should we just set aside skepticism?  These special interest groups want the census to reflect the highest possible number of constituents.  Is it reasonable to assume that they will push for the methodology that they feel will result in a maximization of their political clout?

Phantom Constituents

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Back when My Two Census was in our initial launch phase, we failed to take note of a great article from The New York Times about how census data can be skewed to affect elections. This February 6 piece titled “Phantom Constituents” discusses how prison populations can alter census counts. From the article:

The distortions caused by prison gerrymandering are clearly apparent at the state level, where inmates are sometimes used to pad thinly populated legislative districts that would otherwise be illegal under federal law. But the same issue crops up within counties, towns and cities.

Consider, for example, the city of Anamosa, Iowa, where city a councilman from a prison community was elected to office on the strength of just two votes (both write ins) back 2006. According to the census, Anamosa’s Ward 2 had almost 1,400 residents — about the same as the other three wards in town. But 1,300 of Ward 2’s “residents’’ were actually inmates of the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Once the inmates were subtracted, ward 2 turned out to have fewer than 60 actual residents.

Anamosa’s voters have passed a referendum that requires City Council members to be elected at large. But this small-town saga has thrown a spotlight onto this problem. As we have already seen, prison gerrymandering undercuts the power of populous areas and exaggerates the power of regions that are thinly settled.

Census starts its pre-Census legwork

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Here in San Francisco, we’re pretty much daily readers of the San Francisco Chronicle. (After all, we need to enjoy it while it lasts.)

And even with the recent cuts and under-staffing that has plagued the paper, we happy to see some solid reporting about the 2010 Census in today’s Chronicle. Even better, the Chronicle teased to the story on the top of the newspaper’s front page.

As the Chronicle reported, the local Census is already gearing up for next’s massive undertaking. For those looking for jobs, the local office is looking to hire 700 census takers to “who will fan out next month to make note of every single dwelling in the region.”

Tracking down every single address in the nation is no small task, and the article notes that a recent Government Accountability Office report highlights some of the daunting problems still plaguing the “fragile” operation:

1. Technology. Census officials had hoped to equip census takers visiting homes that didn’t mail back their census forms with small GPS comp0uters. But technical difficulties forced the bureau to abandon those plans. Census takers will, according to the Chronicle, carry the devices when doing address canvassing.

2. Budget. Not only is the Census a massive undertaking, but it also takes a massive amount of tax dollars to fund that effort. And with the economy reeling and government expenditures being scrutinized for their job-creation efects, it may not be an easy year to fully fund the Census, despite the Constitutional requirement to do so. That’s no small problem when the Census may cost $14 billion to carry out.

3. Accuracy. Tracking down every address in the nation may go a long way toward ensuring an accurate census. But, what about those that don’t live in a real home or apartment? Many of the nation’s agricultural workforce is crammed into shacks, tents or crowded apartments. So those are still heads that need counting.

The Bureau has its work cut out for them. We’re happy to hear that they’ll be beefing up staffing to help solve that problem. And we’re just as happy that, even in bad times for newspapers, we’re not the only ones keeping an eye on how the Census is being carried out.

Think awards season ended with the Oscars? Wrong!

Friday, March 13th, 2009

This just in: Michael Baker Jr., Inc. (Baker), an engineering unit of Michael Baker Corporation (NYSE Alternext US: BKR), is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a 2009 Diamond Honor Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Pennsylvania for its innovation and outstanding achievement on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Accurate Coordinate Datasets Collection (ACDC) project.

Hang on just one second there folks….Has the ACDC project (perhaps someone in the Bureau is passionate about hard rock) launched and operated perfectly? Shouldn’t the folks over at the Academy who decide the Diamonds wait to see if the census software functions properly in the field during the 2010 count before issuing such awards? And most importantly, who issued Michael Baker Jr. Inc. the contract for this assignment? Was it issued fairly? What lobbying contributions has Michael Baker Jr. Inc. made? Don’t worry America, the My Two Census team is taking on this case.

Census in Kashmir? Can you fill out a form that spells “trouble?”

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Today, there was a brief report that the Indian government is collecting census data in the Kashmir region, which is a historically violent/disputed territory that India and Pakistan both hold claims over. Hopefully a headcount won’t lead to war…

The UK’s Former Census Czar: Queen Victoria

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Just yesterday, data from the 1881 Scottish Census was revealed to the public. According to the BBC,
genealogy feel that putting the 1881 census online will enable family historians to more easily trace their roots. The census charts the lives of the 3.7 million people living in Scotland on 3 April, 1881. It includes the name, age, address and occupation of every citizen. The 1881 census has been nicknamed the “lost decade” because it was the only one from 1841-1901 not to have been made available online in its orginal form. Until now the information from that year’s census was only available as handwritten transcripts, which were criticized by researchers as being full of mistakes.

Where did all the kiddies go?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Today, the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle (Mazel Tov on not folding!) jointly report that the American population is aging, which comes as little surprise since Baby Boomers are getting old! Here’s the info:

The American family is aging – and the institution of marriage is all shook up.

Today, the majority of families do not have young children at home, according to a population survey released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the early 1960s, almost 60 percent of families had children younger than 18 living at home; that percentage has now dropped to 46 percent.

Contrast those figures with 1880, when researchers estimate that 75 percent of couples in the United States had children at home.

The census survey, taken every year, sampled 100,000 households. The findings illustrate how much demographics have shaped destiny. Not only have women by their 40s had fewer children than their parents, but an increasing proportion of married couples are older. In 1968, less than 30 percent of married men were 55 and older. Today nearly 40 percent are that age; the percentage of married women 55 and older has increased from 22 to 33 percent.

CNN vs. FOXNews…Today’s 2010 Census Headlines

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Like feuding siblings vying for the attention of their doting mother, CNN and FOXNews are at it again today, each displaying different headlines about topics related to the 2010 Census.

CNN’s senior financial writer Tami Luhby discusses the addition of $1 billion in extra cash from the federal government’s stimulus package (a roughly 7% increase to the Census Bureau’s already steep budget of $13 billion) on 2010 Census operations. She writes, “Though its not technically a stimulus operation, the upcoming decennial population count is helping boost the economy by putting 1.4 million people to work. The Census Bureau is also funneling money into local communities by renting office space and furniture and by buying equipment and supplies. And it is spending $212 million in advertising — mainly in 2010 — to urge people to return their forms.”

FOXNews has focused on a different issue. The headline reads: White House Softens Language on 2010 Census Plan. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs must have finally taken a day off, because White House Spokesman Benjamin La Bolt said in a statement, “The president wants to ensure that the census conducts a fair and accurate count. The census director will report to the commerce secretary.”

The truth about counting dogs

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

While human census questionnaires have recently captured the hears and minds of millions in Kazakhstan and yielded surprising results on the island of Fiji, some Americans are more worried about counting man’s best friends. Municipal employees in Gorham, New York have been faced with a doggie demographic discrepancy. Based on a population formula used by the Humane Society, there should be approximately 25,000 dogs in Ontario County, where Gorham is located. However, only 17,663 dogs were collectively counted by enumerators during the last Humane Society census. That potentially leaves 7,337 uncounted, unlicensed dogs. Uh-oh!

Lawmakers at work: Thomas Carper & Charlie Dent

Monday, March 9th, 2009

According to the National Journal, Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Delaware)  is so concerned by the vacancy at the helm of the Census Bureau, he’s stepping in to provide the administration with some nominees. Carper, who chairs the Senate homeland security and governmental affairs federal financial management subcommittee, is asking fellow subcommittee members to come up with two possible nominees for the post. Carper says he’ll pass the names to senior White House staff.

Taking Census restructuring one step further, Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania) recently authored legislation that, if passed, would call for the U.S. Census to be removed from the Commerce Department and set up as an independent agency.

Gay rights, civil unions, and the U.S. Census

Monday, March 9th, 2009

In many pro-gay rights circles, there has been outrage that same-sex couples will not be properly counted during the 2010 Census. Here are some more details from change.org:

Whether the White House or the Commerce Department ends up controlling the 2010 U.S. Census doesn’t matter.  The basic point about the 2010 U.S. Census is this: it will, once again, fail to accurately count this country’s LGBT population, and will completely and utterly discriminate against gay and lesbian families.

Why?  Because of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.  Citing DOMA, the U.S. government says that it would be illegal to count same-sex partners and identify them as gay and lesbian couples, since same-sex unions aren’t recognized on a federal level.  Moreover, for same-sex couples who have children, the injustice is even graver.  Same-sex couples with kids won’t even be listed as “families” on the 2010 U.S. census, and children will be listed as “belonging to single parents.”

Food for thought from Census Bureau Spokesman Stephen Buckner

Friday, March 6th, 2009

FACT: For each additional 1% of Americans who return their 2010 Census surveys in a timely fashion without additional prodding from the Census Bureau, the government will save $85 million.

Live from Washington: 5 Year Term for Census Director

Friday, March 6th, 2009

From Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post:

Congressional hearings on the fate of the 2010 Census started with the House this morning and ended on the Senate side this afternoon. Representatives from the Government Accountability Office reiterated their concerns that the Bureau has not properly prepared for the count and most witnesses seemed to support proposals to give future Census directors five-year terms.

“The problem is that the ten-year cycle of the decennial census and the five-year cycle of the economic censuses is just out of tune with a four-year cycle” of presidential elections, said Barbara Everitt Bryant, who served as director during the 1990 Census. She noted the proposal has the support of every living former Census director.

Robert Goldenkoff, director of strategic issues for GAO agreed: “You need someone who’s not really going to be a temporary employee, someone who’s not going to be in and out.” Former Census official Dr. Robert Hill noted that “Most critical decisions on a Census occur three to five years before a Census.”

The witnesses appeared before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee with oversight of the Census Bureau. Bryant also warned that several Americans, especially Latinos in the Southwest, may resist participating in next year’s headcount due to privacy or legal concerns.

“Only trusted sources can convince the reluctant, fearful or uninformed that the Census Bureau does not give information to the INS, the IRS, landlords, ex-spouses or mothers-in-law,” Bryant said. Elaborating in her prepared remarks, she said “The current immigration and naturalization raids on employers and neighborhoods to identify and deport undocumented immigrants is bound to make residents unwilling to be found or, if found, to give information to the government.”

One other interesting fact gleaned from today’s events: the Census Bureau received more than 1 million applications for its 140,000 temporary positions to perform address canvassing later this year, according to Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner. The application process ended in December.