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.

Posts Tagged ‘military’

KansasReporter.org: Spike in Census errors on campus

Friday, June 18th, 2010

The following piece comes from KansasReporter.org, which is a project of the Kansas Policy Institute, and is run by a team of veteran journalists:

By Gene Meyer, June 17, 2010

(KansasReporter) TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Secretary of State’s office has found a big spike in census errors on Kansas campuses that could affect the redrawing of electoral boundaries throughout the state.

Census workers in the secretary of state’s office found significant errors in 30 percent of 25,000 of the more than 100,000 responses they received this spring for a special survey that Kansas conducts each 10 years in connection with the federal decennial census.

By comparison, only 9 percent of the comparable forms turned in 10 years ago were flawed, said Abbie Hodgson, the office’s public affairs director. Many of the latest errors appeared to involve missing information, she said.

State workers need to contact students and resolve the mistakes now to avoid bigger problems as Kansas legislators redraw Congressional, Kansas Legislature and Kansas State Board of Education boundaries during the next two years, said Chris Biggs, Kansas’ secretary of state.

“It’s important that students complete the adjustment form so that they are counted in their hometowns during redistricting,” Biggs said Thursday. “We’re in the process of reaching out…to ensure that we have complete and accurate information.”

Federal census numbers are used to recalculate everything from boundaries for federal and state legislative districts to the equitable distribution of about $400 billion in annual, population-linked spending within each state, said Rich Gerdes, an assistant regional director of the U.S. Census, in Kansas City, Kan.

But exactly how states use those numbers to draw legislative boundaries and divide the money usually is up to state legislatures so long as their members follow broad guidelines regarding equal representation. Kansas and at least seven other states require lawmakers there to make some specific adjustments to federal numbers that most will receive nine or 10 months from now.

In Kansas, a constitutional amendment passed sometime before the 1990 federal census requires that college students and military service members  be counted as residents of their home towns, not the campus or military communities where they might live nine or more months a year.

“That’s different from how we list them on the federal census,” said Gerdes. “We would list them where they live most of the year.”

Legislators use the federal numbers to calculate U.S. Congressional districts and the state-adjusted numbers to determine state legislative and school board districts. And populations can change markedly between the calculations. Heavily populated Johnson County, in northeastern Kansas, gained nearly 2,600 additional residents in 2000, when absent college students were sent home statistically. Less densely populated Riley County, further west, lost more than 13,000 residents when Fort Riley families and Kansas State University students by the same process. (more…)

Is the Census Bureau inflating participation rates in Florida?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

The following story from keysnet.com makes us wonder if participation rates from the Census Bureau are truly accurate (or inflated as the story suggests). If any statisticians or Census Bureau officials reading this want to chime in, please do so in the comments section.

Census sending enumerators back to the Keys

By RYAN McCARTHY

It’s safe to say U.S. Census Bureau officials and Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers disagree on just how many Keys residents have been counted for the 2010 tally.

Census officials have been touting return rates as high as 97.5 percent in the Keys, which raised Carruthers’ — and others’ — suspicion. She put out a call on Thursday asking those not counted to contact her office.

That 97.5 percent figure appears to be inflated.

“We have an amazing number of people calling saying they haven’t been counted. Some say their whole neighborhood; some say [a census taker] left a note on their door and never came back,” Carruthers said.

She’d heard enough, and asked Marilyn Stephens, Census Bureau partnership specialist for South Florida, to address the County Commission this Wednesday in Key Largo.

“Maybe this will light a fire under them and they’ll go back out and count some of these,” Carruthers said.

Similarly high return rates — 87 percent countywide and 99 percent in Key West — were reported in April, but it was later determined that the Census Bureau was pulling those numbers from two select groups of people: Military personnel and the handful of Monroe residents who live on the mainland.

Carruthers has been trumpeting the importance of the census since well before it started on March 22. Return rates in Monroe County during the 2000 census were poor, which affected the amount of state and federal grant dollars the Keys received.

Returns were so poor, in fact, that the Census Bureau implemented a hand enumeration program in the Keys. It hired hundreds of workers from the Keys and South Florida to visit residents door to door. In other areas of the country — and at Keys military bases and on mainland Monroe — people were mailed surveys and asked to fill them out and return them.

Census Bureau spokeswoman Helga Silva said she received word Friday that census workers will canvass the Keys one last time this weekend.

“Twenty-five to 30 enumerators will go down to the Keys this weekend to finish up the operation that stands at around 98 percent. They’re looking at around 100 houses,” Silva said.

Silva said anyone still not counted after this weekend can contact the Census Bureau office in Homestead at (305) 508-9300.

Wednesday’s commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Murray E. Nelson Government & Cultural Center. Stephens is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m.

Military gears up for 2010 Census

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The counting of military personnel hasn’t been discussed very much on this blog or by the mainstream media — other than some cities with large military bases that wish the soldiers who reside on said bases were counted there, rather than their hometowns…

by Jordan Reimer
American Forces Press Service

3/22/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) – Defense Department officials are working with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that all military personnel are accounted for in the 2010 Census, a defense official said March 19.

All servicemembers and their families, whether stationed domestically or overseas, must be counted and attributed to their proper place of residence, said Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center.

“The important thing is making sure that the states and the federal government are allocating funds to those communities where our bases are located, so they can properly support our military members,” she said.

The constitution mandates that the government take a census of United States residents every 10 years. All residents, regardless of citizenship or legal status, are legally required to take part in the census.

Census information primarily is used to reapportion the number of seats allotted to each state in the House of Representatives. The government also draws on the data to distribute about $400 billion in aid for programs such as Medicaid. State officials use the records to determine how to allocate funds to cities and neighborhoods for critical projects such as infrastructure, hospitals and schools.

Officials from DOD and the Census Bureau established a joint working group in 2004 to coordinate the process of counting military members and their families. All four military services and the Coast Guard are included. The Defense Manpower Data Center – whose staff collects, archives, and maintains manpower and personnel data — represents the Defense Department on the committee.

“This group works together to figure out what that process is going to be, making sure we have all the designated points of contact, so that the census will run smoothly during the course of the census process,” Ms. Dixon said.

Defense officials said the department is on track to submit the count forms to the bureau ahead of the July deadline.

All servicemembers who receive a census form are required to fill it out and mail it back to the Census Bureau. The data of military members stationed overseas — who will not receive any forms — will be processed administratively. Servicemembers who live in group quarters will be required to fill out a “military census report” that will be distributed and collected by their installation’s service representative and submitted on their behalf to the bureau.

Servicemembers who are not U.S. citizens will be counted in the census. Servicemembers stationed overseas still are considered U.S. residents because they normally reside in the United States but are assigned abroad, Ms. Dixon said.

Because some servicemembers maintain more than one place of residence, the concern exists that some people will be counted twice, or not at all, Ms. Dixon acknowledged. But she added that she’s is confident that Defense Department officials, who fine-tune the process after each census, will accomplish the mission accurately and efficiently.

“There haven’t been any substantial differences in what we’re doing,” she said. “(And) I think we’ve been pretty successful in the past.”

Census 2010: Counting Soldiers

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

From BryantCountyNews.net (of Georgia):

Denise Etheridge
Posted: Nov. 17, 2009  4:04 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 18, 2009 1 a.m.

Local officials hope to change the way the national government will count deployed soldiers in the upcoming 2010 Census.

Soldiers are counted as residents of their “state of record” rather than counted as residents of the local area in which they are living at the time they deploy, confirmed Lauren Lewis, Partnership Specialist. Therefore, an estimated 14,000 soldiers assigned to Fort Stewart and who live in Hinesville and surrounding communities will not now be counted as part of the local population when they deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This is how it is done nationwide,” Lewis explained. She said military personnel who will be serving overseas when the Census is taken will be added to their home states’ population figures.

Lewis oversees a 10-county area that includes Bryan, Liberty, Effingham, Tattnall, Glynn, Evans, Chatham, Long, McIntosh and Toombs counties.

Officials from Liberty County, Hinesville and other local cities have signed and sent a letter to U.S. Rep.

Jack Kingston and U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson requesting their support in changing the way the Census currently counts active duty service members. Community leaders continue to stress the impact population has in determining the amount of money the federal government distributes to states, and states, in turn, apportions to counties and cities.

Jeff Ricketson, director of the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership, said a dialogue began last week at a partnership meeting about the Census and how deployed military members are counted. Ricketson said local leaders are concerned their cities and counties – particularly Hinesville and Liberty County – will be financially penalized over a 10-year period based on the Census count.

The letter, he said, was sent to Georgia’s Congressional Delegation. The partnership includes the counties of Liberty, Bryan, Long and Tattnall, and the cities located in these counties.

Gay Rights, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the 2010 Census

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Check out a solid article from Eve Conant of Newsweek about gay marriage and the 2010 Census (full article HERE):

“Sarah,” an active-duty soldier in Iraq, can hardly be questioned for her patriotism or courage. But when it comes to filling out her 2010 census form, her primary emotion is fear. “I keep real quiet about my partner,” she tells NEWSWEEK. “Even this conversation is a violation of the law, but I’ve stepped away from the other soldiers so I’m not ‘a threat to morale.’ ” Sarah is tired of the subterfuge and wishes she could use her real name for this article without getting fired under “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation. She’s anxious because she knows this census is a watershed moment for the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community, as it is for gay soldiers. “A lot of people don’t want to believe there are 60,000 of us in the military. I don’t believe it either. I think that number is bigger.”

or the first time in the centuries-long history of the census, the number of same-sex couples who self-identify as married—license or no license—will be tabulated and released to the public. The move is seen as both a friendly nod to the gay community—which had pinned its hopes on President Obama and has, at least in some quarters, been frustrated by a perceived slow response to gay-rights issues—and a boost to policy fights, from challenging laws that limit gay adoptions to the nationwide legalization of gay marriage.The release of the data also marks a major shift in the evolution of the Census Bureau. In 1990 it edited the answers of self-identified gay husbands and wives to make them appear as opposite-sex partners; in 2000, instead of editing the sex of a gay spouse it edited the data to describe the same-sex couples as “unmarried partners.” While the Census Bureau doesn’t make policy, its data will be instrumental to inform it. “This will not be a count of the gay population of the U.S., but it will be the biggest, most profound data set that anyone has ever had,” says Timothy Olson, assistant division chief in the U.S. Census Field Division. “There will finally be good data for policymakers to engage in the issues with facts, not speculations.”

“Sarah,” an active-duty soldier in Iraq, can hardly be questioned for her patriotism or courage. But when it comes to filling out her 2010 census form, her primary emotion is fear. “I keep real quiet about my partner,” she tells NEWSWEEK. “Even this conversation is a violation of the law, but I’ve stepped away from the other soldiers so I’m not ‘a threat to morale.’ ” Sarah is tired of the subterfuge and wishes she could use her real name for this article without getting fired under “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation. She’s anxious because she knows this census is a watershed moment for the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community, as it is for gay soldiers. “A lot of people don’t want to believe there are 60,000 of us in the military. I don’t believe it either. I think that number is bigger.”

For the first time in the centuries-long history of the census, the number of same-sex couples who self-identify as married—license or no license—will be tabulated and released to the public. The move is seen as both a friendly nod to the gay community—which had pinned its hopes on President Obama and has, at least in some quarters, been frustrated by a perceived slow response to gay-rights issues—and a boost to policy fights, from challenging laws that limit gay adoptions to the nationwide legalization of gay marriage.

The release of the data also marks a major shift in the evolution of the Census Bureau. In 1990 it edited the answers of self-identified gay husbands and wives to make them appear as opposite-sex partners; in 2000, instead of editing the sex of a gay spouse it edited the data to describe the same-sex couples as “unmarried partners.” While the Census Bureau doesn’t make policy, its data will be instrumental to inform it. “This will not be a count of the gay population of the U.S., but it will be the biggest, most profound data set that anyone has ever had,” says Timothy Olson, assistant division chief in the U.S. Census Field Division. “There will finally be good data for policymakers to engage in the issues with facts, not speculations.”

That upsets some conservatives, who argue that by releasing the data, the bureau is violating the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). “Federal law states that marriage is between a man and woman,” says Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women of America. “This is a denial of federal law.” But she and other family-values leaders lost that argument this summer when Obama reversed the Bush’s administration’s refusal to release the figures. Since DOMA applied only to policymaking agencies, and since the census asks only if a person is a husband or a wife, not if they are “married,” the census, the Obama administration argued, does not violate DOMA.

Nonetheless, some conservatives predict the census will do more harm than good for the gay-rights movement. “There are early indications from states that have allowed such unions that their numbers are not growing,” says Wright. “The census count may end up being a bit of an embarrassment for gay activists.” A 2008 census poll of 3 million households showed that 150,000 same-sex couples used the terms “husband” or “wife” to describe their partner (about 27 percent of the estimated 564,743 same-sex couples living in the U.S.). Yet only 35,000 marriage licenses had been issued by the end of 2008 in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut, according to the Williams Institute, a UCLA law-school think tank dedicated to sexual-orientation law and public policy. So even without a license, many couples count themselves as married.

This has angered gay-marriage opponents, who say gay couples are falsely boosting their numbers. But gay advocates are not swayed. “You can decide what lying is,” says the Williams Institute’s Gary Gates. “The census questionnaire doesn’t ask if you are legally married; it asks [about] relationships, such as husband or wife. So you could have been married in a church or in a commitment ceremony but have no license.” In part to resolve questions such as this, the census has asked specialists like Gates to advise a follow-up project to improve data collection, including ways to track legal relationships like civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Even if the data will not be a full count of all gays in America, the census is expected to shed light on underreported issues like gay poverty, especially given the common perception that gay couples are predominantly white and wealthy. According to recent research by the Williams Institute and the University of Massachusetts, some 20 percent of children belonging to gay couples live in poverty, compared with 10 percent of children of heterosexual couples. “The census,” predicts Gates, “will be a boon for challenging stereotypes.”