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 April, 2009

MyTwoCensus Exclusive Part 2: Identity Theft, Scams, and the Census Bureau

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Vigilant Americans who are suspicious of individuals claiming to represent the Census Bureau have in many cases called the authorities. For instance,  NBC affiliate DFW in Richardson, Texas reports that residents were concerned about the legitimacy of census workers going to door to door, so they called the cops.

Part of the problem is that the Census Bureau doesn’t permit its employees to be photographed or videotaped while on the job, so residents would not know from other media reports what census enumerators wear or what their flimsy ID badges look like. In the opinion of MyTwoCensus, this ban on the media violates the first amendment that gives freedom to the press. It’s not like Census Bureau enumerators need their faces hidden for national security purposes like CIA Agents or FBI Agents would…Here’s the full story from Richardson, TX:

MyTwoCensus Exclusive: Identity Theft, Scams, and the Census Bureau

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


Thanks to reporter Larry Collins at NBC affiliate WCBD in Charleston, South Carolina for tipping us off to potential problems with sinister individuals posing as census enumerators. In the view of, the main problem here is that enumerators’ ID badges look unofficial, can be forged easily, and lack photo identification. Thus, since there are 1.4 million Americans who have been/will be hired to work as census takers, it’s highly likely that a workers’ badge has been/will be stolen or copied to use for criminal activities such as identity theft and fraud.


We’ve already sent our inquiries to the Census Bureau to find out they provide workers with ID badges that can be forged so easily…Don’t worry America, we’ll get to the bottom of this!

Census Problems in Eastern Washington

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

In Washington state, a lack of bilingual census employees is the root of some of the first reported 2010 Census problems. From KNDO/KNDU in Tri-Cities, Washington:

KENNEWICK, Wash.– The country is less than a year away from Census Day 2010, a day where every household counts.

“We need to count everybody in the communities which concerns citizens and non citizens both,” said Brian Kennedy, Manager at the Spokane Census Bureau Office.

Kennedy says the question of citizenship will be asked, and they’re trying their best to find ways to get more accurate numbers.

Census staff say right now they’re trying to hire more bilingual recruiters primarily in Spanish. They also want to hire more people who live in hard-to-count communities like East Pasco.

“So that when somebody knocks on these people’s door, that are maybe hesitant to talk to the government, they have somebody from their community to speak their language and ask the questions,” said Kennedy.

Gloria Ochoa, an attorney in Kennewick, says it’s the fear of deportation that keeps immigrants from speaking up.

“Once you start asking someone whether or not they’re a citizen they’re automatic response is ‘they’re researching me to find out whether or not I’m undocumented’,” said Ochoa.

Ochoa comes from a family of immigrants and says it wasn’t until 1986 that her parents became citizens.

“My parents had been deported on two occasions that I can personally recall when they were working in a tomato field, and they left us with a babysitter,” said Ochoa.

But in spite of people’s fear the census bureau says they’re not turning anyone in, just counting. They say it’s very important everyone is counted, especially since it’s a way for the government to measure how much money to give back to each community.

Census staff say some of the toughest people to count in our area are Hispanic and Russian.

Halting immigration raids until after April 1, 2010 (Census Day)

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The great immigration debate continues…Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca) has proposed halting immigration raids until after the 2010 Census. Since California has a large number of illegal aliens, this means that the state will record higher population totals if these immigrants are counted. If raids are not halted, immigrants may hide from census employees (who have no legal authority to report immigration issues). From Fox News:

U.S. Rep. William Clay, D-Mo., who chairs a House oversight subcommittee on the Census, said he plans to ask the Obama administration to suspend immigration raids over the next year.

He wants the raids put on hold so illegal immigrants don’t worry that sharing accurate information with Census workers could somehow expose them to punishment, even deportation.

“There are many people — Hispanics, African-Americans, whites, Asians — who have an irrational fear of government, who distrust government, who don’t believe that if they give the federal government personal information, that that information is not going to be confidential,” said Arturo Vargas, of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The kind of move Clay is proposing has been done before — in 2000, and even earlier.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, was working for the border patrol ahead of the 1990 Census when the orders came down to suspend some enforcement efforts.

“It distorts the count because people might be apprehensive about answering the door, or reporting accurately how many people are living in a house or residence or an apartment, or those kinds of things — at least that was the rationale,” Reyes explained.

But the call to pull back the reins on immigration enforcement is opposed by many of Clay’s colleagues, including the ranking Republican on the House oversight committee.

“We’re not talking about one day of not doing raids. We’re talking about a period of time. Is that a week, a month or a whole year? We cannot suspend law enforcement,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

The Obama administration has sought a freeze on arrests of illegal immigrants, upending an enforcement policy that was in widespread use during the last years of the Bush administration.

There has only been one mass arrest of immigrants since Obama took office, which came as a shock to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who ordered a review of the incident. All but one of the illegal immigrants arrested in the February raid were released and given legal work permits.

Profile: Robert M. Groves

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

TIME Magazine just released its profile of our new Counter-In-Chief-To-Be (pending confirmation):

Fast Facts:

•Originally from Kansas City. Earned a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, followed by master’s degrees in statistics and sociology and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Michigan.

• Joined the University of Michigan’s Sociology Department in 1975. Has also taught at the University of Maryland and at schools in Sweden and Germany.

• Served as an associate census director from 1990 to 1992.

• Helped develop surveys for groups ranging from the American Lung Association to A.C. Nielsen and Co.

• Has written several books and dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters on survey methods. Much of his work focuses on boosting response rates to polls and surveys.

• Worked as a Vermont prison guard during college.

Quotes about Robert M. Groves:

• “He’s generally well liked and well respected in the profession” and “very good at dealing with human interaction.”
—Eugene Ericksen, a Temple University sociology and statistics professor and former classmate (Detroit Free Press, April 2, 2009)

• “He is a respected social scientist who will run the Census Bureau with integrity and independence.”
—Commerce Secretary Gary Locke (AP, April 2, 2009)

• “This is an incredibly troubling selection that contradicts the Administration’s assurances that the census process would not be used to advance an ulterior political agenda.”
—Rep. Darrell Issa (New York Times, April 2, 2009)

• “For those tempted to label Groves as the pawn of partisans in the White House or the Democratic party, I have a warning: the notion of Bob Groves yielding to partisanship is laughable. As in rolling on the floor laughing out loud laughable.”
—Mark Blumenthal, publisher and editor, (April 5, 2009)

Census in the CNMI begs the question: What is the CNMI?

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Few people remember that America governs offshore territories other than vacation favorite Puerto Rico. One such territory is the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the South Pacific, population 88,662 (so long as the Census Bureau got it right last time…). Supported primarily by its tourism industry, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands receives a significant amount of annual aid from America. The Saipan Tribune (the Mariana’s daily newspaper) just reported that the Census Bureau will be allocating $4.6 million for census-taking efforts in 2010, a 31% increase over the $3.5 million for Census 2000. Those are your tax dollars and stimulus money hard at work…10,000 miles away. Here’s the full story:

The CNMI’s proposed budget for the 2010 census is approximately $4.6 million, a 31 percent increase from roughly $3.5 million for Census 2000, according to the Department of Commerce.

John Blanco, director of Commerce’s Central Statistics Division, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that although the money has yet to arrive, preliminary planning has already begun between CSD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The census is a count of everyone residing in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the CNMI and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Census 2000 put the CNMI’s population count at 69,221, from only 43,345 during Census 1990.

The first Census was conducted in 1790 and has been carried out every 10 years since then.

In the CNMI and elsewhere in the nation, Census 2010 day is set for April 1, 2010.

Blanco said Commerce is expected to hire the managerial team by Oct. 1, consisting of some 17 positions that include a local census office manager, an assistant manager for field operations, a partnership/media specialist, an assistant manager for office operations and an assistant manager for administration.

“The bulk of the hires, though, which will number around 300 strong at its peak, will not occur until early in 2010,” Blanco said.

When the Census 2010 team reaches full swing, it expects to have 242 field staff, consisting of enumerators, crew leaders, crew leader assistants and field operation supervisors hitting the field by April 1, 2010.

The 178 enumerators will begin training on March 22, 2010.

Blanco said that now more than ever, the CNMI is in need of current statistical data besides the federal government requirements that a census be conducted.

“Our own public and private sectors have been clamoring for more recent population data, given the tremendous turn of events we have witnessed since the last decennial census. Also, given that the CNMI was unable to conduct its own mid-decade census back in 2005 due mostly to budget constraints, this full census of the Northern Marianas is, for all intents and purposes, long overdue and greatly welcomed,” he said.

Census information helps local and federal leaders to make more informed decisions. Businesses rely on the data to gauge the investment climate of the CNMI, or to decide whether the population of a village can support the opening of a business in their respective communities. Grant writers use census information in their respective papers.

“This is just a few of the many reasons why the census is so important not only to our nation, but our islands as well,” Blanco added.

Census efforts kick off around America

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Today, census workers (properly referred to as enumerators) began canvassing throughout America. The first part of their mission is to verify every address in America. As has previously stated, using Google Maps (with their FREE satellite images), Microsoft Virtual Earth, and other technologies, this effort is in many cases redundant. Nonetheless, the stimulus package has pumped an extra billion dollars into these efforts. Here’s what’s going on in your neck of the woods:




South Carolina


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

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

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

And the fight begins: Robert M. Groves vs. The GOP

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

With Democrats controlling the Senate, it appears that President Obama’s nominee for Census Director, Dr. Robert M. Groves, will have an easy time coasting his way to being confirmed (so long as there are no unpaid taxes, former mistresses, or other skeletons in his closet). However, as The New York Times states, members of the GOP are unhappy with the selection of Groves for the following reasons:

Republicans expressed alarm because of one of Mr. Groves’s specialties, statistical sampling — roughly speaking, the process of extrapolating from the numbers of people actually counted to arrive at estimates of those uncounted and, presumably, arriving at a realistic total.

If minorities, immigrants, the poor and the homeless are those most likely to be missed in an actual head count, and if political stereotypes hold true, then statistical sampling would presumably benefit the Democrats.

Republicans have generally argued that statistical sampling is not as reliable as its devotees insist. “Conducting the census is a vital constitutional obligation,” Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader, said Thursday. “It should be as solid, reliable and accurate as possible in every respect. That is why I am concerned about the White House decision to select Robert Groves as director of the Census Bureau.”

Representative Darrell Issa of California, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, also issued a statement of dismay. “This is an incredibly troubling selection that contradicts the administration’s assurances that the census process would not be used to advance an ulterior political agenda,” Mr. Issa said.

The Census Bureau is part of the Department of Commerce, whose secretary, Mr. Locke, said during his recent confirmation hearings that “there are no plans to use any type of statistical sampling with respect to population count.”

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that an actual count must be used to apportion seats among the states in the House of Representatives, the only purpose for the once-a-decade census spelled out in the Constitution. But the 5-to-4 ruling left open the possibility that statistical adjustments could be used to redraw Congressional districts within the states, and for other purposes, like the distribution of federal money.

When he was associate director of statistical design at the Census Bureau in the early 1990s, Mr. Groves pushed for statistically adjusting the 1990 census to make up for an undercount widely believed to have been several million people. But Robert A. Mosbacher Sr., the commerce secretary in the administration of President George Bush, torpedoed the idea, calling it an attempt at “political tampering.”

Mr. Boehner, recalling that controversy, said Thursday that “we will have to watch closely to ensure the 2010 census is conducted without attempting similar statistical sleight of hand.”

Immigration Reform: Now or it’s too late…

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Because of the possibility that undocumented immigrants will not be properly counted during the 2010 Census, immigration reform advocacy groups and ethnic media are seizing the opportunity to call on the Obama administration for immediate policy changes. Here’s the AP article:

Saying traditional census outreach will not be enough, Hispanic groups on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to follow through now on its pledge to pass immigration reform or risk an undercount of millions of people.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Univision Inc., the League of United Latin American Citizens and SEIU announced a grassroots campaign that would supplement Census Bureau efforts to reach the traditionally hard-to-count Hispanic community. An estimated 1 million Hispanics, or about 3 percent of the Hispanic population, were missed in 2000.

“Make no mistake about it: The census cannot succeed if Latinos are not fully counted,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO, noting that Hispanics make up half of the nation’s percentage growth. “We are the future of the United States.”

He said a halt to immigration raids is not enough and referred to President Barack Obama’s pledge on immigration reform.

“That needs to be decided today, not in the 2010 census,” Vargas said.

Ruben Keoseyan, publisher of La Raza newspaper, expressed concern about a mixed message where Hispanic groups work to build trust in immigrant communities only to have it destroyed if the government conducts a raid days later. “The federal government plays an important role in augmenting what we are doing,” he said.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who addressed the groups Wednesday, stressed that all personal information in census forms will be kept confidential. He noted that Obama would soon nominate a new census director.

We all recognize what is at stake,” Locke said.

At a news conference, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said they were opposed to suspending enforcement of immigration laws to improve the census count. They noted that Obama has a “bully pulpit” as president to emphasize that sending in the government form is safe and won’t be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or IRS tax collectors.

“The idea that we would have … border patrol, INS and ICE sit on the sidelines is not reasonable,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the top Republican on the committee. “They’re looking for terrorists more than they are looking for immigrants.”

Census officials have acknowledged that tens of millions of residents in dense urban areas — about 14 percent of the U.S. population — are at high risk of being missed due to language problems and a deepening economic crisis that has displaced homeowners. They are devoting up to $250 million of the $1 billion in stimulus money for outreach, including an additional $13 million for Hispanic advertising.

On Wednesday, Hispanic groups said their media and education campaign will extend not only to California, Texas and Florida, which have high numbers of Hispanics, but also to newly emerging Hispanic areas in Georgia, the Carolinas and Arkansas.

There are nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., many of them clustered in states such as California, New York, Florida and Texas, which stand to either lose House seats or gain fewer seats depending on whether their Hispanic communities are fully counted.

Breaking News: Obama’s Pick for Census Bureau Chief

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

According to the AP, the Obama Administration has chosen University of Michigan academic Robert M. Groves to head the Census Bureau. Don’t worry readers, we’ve already requested that Dr. Groves let us interview him before he meets with the mainstream media. Here’s the article:

The White House will announce the selection of Groves later Thursday, according to a Commerce Department official who demanded anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak before the official announcement.

Groves is a former Census Bureau associate director of statistical design, serving from 1990-92. He has spent decades researching ways to improve survey response rates. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take the helm less than a year before the decennial count, which has been beset by partisan bickering and will be used to apportion House seats and allocate billions in federal dollars.

When he was the bureau’s associate director, Groves recommended that the 1990 census be statistically adjusted to make up for an undercount of roughly 5 million people, many of them minorities in dense urban areas who tend to vote for Democrats.

But in a fierce political dispute that prompted White House staff to call the bureau and express opposition, the Census Bureau was overruled by Republican Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher, who called the proposed statistical adjustment “political tampering.”

The Supreme Court later ruled in 1999 that the use of statistical sampling cannot be used to apportion House seats, but indicated that adjustments could be made to the population count when redrawing congressional boundaries.

Current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has said there are no current plans to use sampling for redistricting.

Groves, now a professor at the University of Michigan, would take over at a critical time. Census officials acknowledge that tens of millions of residents in dense urban areas — about 14 percent of the U.S. population — are at high risk of being missed due to language problems and a deepening economic crisis due to the financial meltdown that has displaced homeowners.

The government is devoting up to $250 million of the $1 billion in stimulus money for outreach, particularly for traditionally hard-to-count minorities.

But Hispanic and other groups are warning that traditional census outreach will not be enough, citing in particular rising anti-immigration sentiment after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Republicans, too, have been crying foul after the White House earlier this year indicated that it would take greater control over the census to address minority group concerns about Obama’s initial nomination of GOP Sen. Judd Gregg as Commerce secretary.

Gregg later withdrew his nomination, partly citing disagreements over the handling of the census. The White House has since made clear that Locke will make the final decisions regarding the 2010 head count.

Democrats and Republicans for years have disagreed on whether the census should be based on a strict head count or cross-checked against a “statistical adjustment” to include hard-to-track people, particularly minorities, who might have been missed.

Meanwhile, the cost of the 2010 census is estimated to be $15 billion, the most expensive ever, and experts have long said the Census Bureau must do more to reduce a persistent undercount among minorities, as well as to modernize what is basically a paper mail-out operation that has been in place for decades.

Who was running the show during the Clinton years? Nobody!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The Secretary of Commerce is the person ultimately responsible for the U.S. Census. The preparation for the 2000 Census was the responsibility of Bill Clinton’s administration, and the ultimate headcount was also his responsibility. Many people forget that even though George W. Bush was elected in 2000, he did not come to power until 2001, long after the 2000 Census was completed. After Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown’s tragic death in an air crash in the Balkans in 1996, the Commerce Department was run by a succession of four different individuals: Mickey Kantor (1996-1997), William M. Daley (1997-2000), Ron Mallett (acting head 2000), and Norman Minetta (2000-2001).

With so many people running the show, it’s unsurprising that the count from the 2000 headcount is most likely highly inaccurate, as there were poor PR/advertising/outreach efforts to encourage participation in the census and a noticeable lack of technology/computers used by the individuals who collected data in 2000.

Only now is the Census Bureau making efforts to combat the problems that started ten years ago. For instance: In 2000, one in six households received a long-form version of the census, which contained 53 questions spread over 40 pages. In 2010, all households will receive a simple 10-question form. In addition to Spanish (now standard on all forms alongside English), the census questionnaire will be available in Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese.

The Census Bureau ramps up efforts to count minorities

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

As MyTwoCensus has been noting for quite some time now, the Census Bureau is making significant efforts to count minorities and immigrants, specifically by reaching out to community groups and using the ethnic media. According to the American Chronicle:

WASHINGTON, DC. – Chairman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri, pressed the Acting Census Director and the media group in charge of national and local census advertising to detail how they plan to reduce the national Census undercount among minorities and other hard to count populations. Mr. Clay, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Information Policy, the Census and National Archives, conducted an extensive hearing earlier this week which included testimony from Acting Census Director Thomas L. Mesenbourg; Government Accounting Office Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff; New York City Census Coordinator Stacey Cumberbatch and Jeff Tarakajian, Executive Vice President of DRAFTFBC Media.

In his testimony to Mr. Clay´s subcommittee, GAO Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff reported that “The Bureau has made notable progress in rolling out key components of its communications campaign; if implemented as planned, the campaign will help the Bureau to address the undercount. For example, to help promote the Census, especially to hard to count groups, the Bureau plans to partner with state, local and tribal governments; religious, community and social service organizations; and private businesses to secure a more complete count. Thus far, the Bureau has secured partnerships with more than 10,000 organizations for 2010.” Chairman Clay´s questioning of Acting Census Director Mesenbourg and Jeff Tarakajian, Executive Vice President of DRAFTFBC Media, revealed that with the addition of $1 billion from the Obama stimulus plan, the total communications budget for Census 2010 is now $312 million. That figure is $50 million more than in 2000.

“The Census partnership programs and targeted media are critical to reaching the audiences who are most likely to be missed. In 2000, the Census missed 3 million Americans. Many of them were African American or Hispanic, most were poor, and all of them deserved to be counted,” said Chairman Clay. “I expect the Census Bureau, the Partnership organizations and the advertising campaign to aggressively target these hard to count populations and to make serious progress in reducing the chronic undercount of minorities. The Census is really about three things: information, federal funding, and proper political representation. When we miss any American, we deprive his or her community of all three of those precious resources. Every American counts, and every American deserves to be counted.”

Within that projected budget, $258 million will be spent on paid media, both at the national and local levels. In terms of actual media buys, the Bureau plans to spend $63 million on national media, which is primarily targeted at Americans whose first language is English. $83 million will be targeted at the local level via print, broadcast, transit, web and other forms of advertising to reach hard to count populations. Those local media buys will include messages in 19 languages.

Acting Census Director Mesenbourg also reported to Chairman Clay that the Bureau has learned valuable lessons from 2000 which will greatly improve targeting for 2010. For instance, the evidence proves that the strongest indicator of whether an individual will complete and return a Census form is the composition of that household. Traditional households, headed by both a man and a woman, are the most likely to respond. While single parent households, especially those headed by women, are the least likely to respond. Census 2010 targeting efforts will be adapted to reach these harder to count Americans. Acting Director Mesenbourg also told Chairman Clay that the bureau was making a special effort to update its mailing address canvass to reflect homes lost to foreclosure.