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.

The DIY Census: Special Census Boosts Naperville’s Population by more than 8,000

Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers) have no fear, census calculations is not only the job of the federal government. Take the example of Naperville, Illinois (ranked #2 on Money Magazine’s Best Small Cities to Live In), whose municipal officials took the headcount into their own hands. Here’s what the Daily Herald reports:

Naperville’s population rose by more than 8,000 in the past five years, based on the findings of a special census.

The increase to 144,560 residents isn’t enough to put Naperville back ahead of Joliet in population – it remains the state’s fifth-largest city – but will mean a nearly $800,000 bump in state funding.

“In these trying economic times any amount helps and this is a significant amount that will truly help the general fund,” said Dan Di Santo, assistant to the city manager.

The city conducted the special census last fall to calculate its growth since the last one in 2003. Workers questioned residents by phone and in person about their name, age, sex, race and marital status – a less detailed survey than the one the U.S. Census Bureau conducts every 10 years.

The count was taken mostly on the city’s southwest side and in senior developments where officials believed there to be the most growth.

They originally expected to find about 7,020 more residents, but ended up with 8,180. Each new resident brings in just less than $100 in additional state funding.

An increase in population also means an increase in the amount of free therms of natural gas Nicor gives to public buildings in Naperville, part of an agreement the utility has with the city in exchange for using public right-of-ways.

Another plus, Di Santo said, is the city spent less than the original $284,450 it had budgeted to perform the census.

Naperville experienced significant growth in the 1980s and ’90s. There may be some yet to come but it’s likely to be limited, Di Santo said.

“Naperville is approaching build-out and eventually … we will see the population level out,” he said.

In the meantime, there are still some vacant areas on the southwest side of the city as well as areas with infill possibilities.

The next head count will be the U.S. Census Bureau’s decennial census in 2010. Di Santo encouraged residents to participate because it will help Naperville analyze its population as it shifts from “growth mode to maintenance mode.”

“Our council has been looking at how to … maintain revenues and maintain sufficient service delivery when the local municipal economy really is shifting in a way we haven’t experience since its inception in 1831,” he said.

By the numbers

Naperville experienced significant population growth in the 1980s and ’90s but it likely will begin to level off as the city approaches build-out.

Year Population

1970 22,617

1972 25,011

1973 27,873

1976 30,959

1977 35,062

1980 42,330

1983 49,215

1984 55,197

1986 67,331

1988 79,833

1990 85,351

1992 92,885

1994 100,422

1996 110,107

2000 128,358

2003 137,894

2008 144,560

Source: City of Naperville and Daily Herald reports

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