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 ‘Post-Dispatch’

Federal Census officials get an earful from local community leaders

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

H/t to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press for the following:

Days after U.S. Census forms began hitting mailboxes, local religious and government leaders are sounding alarms that St. Louisans will be undercounted thanks to wasteful efforts and poor planning.

The criticism came at a roundtable hosted by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, part of the federal government’s push to encourage community leaders to promote the decennial head count and get residents to return census forms.

At Wednesday’s roundtable, Josh Wiese, an aide to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, complained that the census was using “a cookie-cutter” approach to counting that wouldn’t work in “high-crime, low-education” areas the same way it works in the suburbs.

“If this isn’t done right, we’ll certainly hold the Census Bureau accountable,” Wiese told Cedric Grant, director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships program, representing the Census Bureau’s parent agency.

Evan Armstrong, of the St. Louis-based International Institute, said he was frustrated that U.S. citizens are given preference for census field work, even if they don’t speak the language of the refugee or immigrant groups they will be counting.

Both Wiese and St. Louis County planning manager Lori Fiegel brought up the challenges of counting the city’s large Bosnian population. Fiegel said her office had been promised a Bosnian liaison, which never materialized. When a census official said the liaison had, indeed, been provided, Fiegel said no one had told her office about it.

“The Bosnian community is afraid of the government, afraid of the government, afraid of the government,” Wiese said. “Then, on April 1, they’re supposed to trust the government before going back to being afraid of the government again the next day.”

William Siedhoff, director of the St. Louis Department of Human Services, said the city’s own annual census of its homeless population, completed in January, would have to be repeated by census workers because the bureau didn’t respond to the city’s suggestion to partner on the January effort.

David Newburger, from the city’s office on the disabled, said data provided by the bureau to help reach the city’s disabled citizens were not specific enough and should include street names. Grant said privacy issues prevented that specificity.

The contentious atmosphere at the roundtable “was based on past experience and the anticipation that undercounts are going to happen again,” Siedhoff said after the meeting.

Dennis Johnson, the bureau’s regional director, defended the census in an interview, saying the effort could not succeed without community partners.

“Someone looking for the federal government to provide all the tools is not going to reach every corner of the community,” Johnson said. “But working through partners who already have outreach systems is one of the most effective communications vehicles the census has.”

Local complaints mirror national ones. Last year, a string of independent reports from the Government Accountability Office and others found mismanagement and troubling computer failures at the Census Bureau. (more…)

Congressman says minorities are not counted equally

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

We came across the following blog post written by Sean Rose of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. MyTwoCensus has made inquiries to Asian-American elected officials about their opinions on what Rep. William Lacy Clay has said:

WASHINGTON — Minorities and urban neighborhoods have long been under counted by the U.S. census and officials are hoping that a $312 million ad campaign can reverse the trend for the 2010 tally.

But Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, is wondering if the Census Bureau is spending all of that money wisely.

After hearing testimony today before the House Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee, which Clay chairs, the congressman took exception to the amount of funds targeting Asian-Americans, which have been better represented than other minorities in past census data.

“What was alarming was that in the Asian communities in America, they have tended to be historically over counted,” Clay said.

Of the money headed toward advertising, $27 million will specifically target Asians-Americans, while $36 million and $39 million will target blacks and Hispanics respectively.

Asian citizens were actually over counted in the 2000 census while the numbers from the last two census attempts have consistently under counted blacks and Hispanics. The 2000 census missed an estimated 3 million people.

None of the spending amounts are final and Clay said he expected to see revised numbers at the next subcommittee hearing.

“It’s a work in progress,” Clay said.

This funding from the bureau is meant to increase the response rate among these communities by stressing the importance of the census through ads and school programs. The bureau is also planning to increase spending to $280 million on partnerships with community groups and leaders in places that have a low response rate to better address problems of finding residents and getting a response.

As a whole, Missouri’s 69 percent response rate was higher than the 67 percent national average. In contrast, St. Louis, home to many minorities that the census has not traditionally reached, had a 53 percent response rate in 2000.