Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Milwaukee Gains Estimated Population, Estimate Still Underestimated

It's good that the US Census Bureau has added 30,000 residents to Milwaukee's officially-estimated population - - but these estimates are notoriously low, so Milwaukee probably has another 20,000 or 30,000 residents to be found and counted in the 2010 census.

I know this from personal experience: during the 2000 census, as Deputy Director of Administration for the City of Milwaukee, I was fortunate to be the city's liaison to the official federal count and the city's contracted supplemental effort to find people that the census-takers routinely overlook.

Milwaukee's history is that the official estimates come in low, then the official count is completed, and the count exceeds the most recent estimate by about 30,000 people.

The official census takers are hard-working people, but often were from out-of-state and not completely motivated to canvass neighborhoods and housing units as completely as possible.

Federal estimating methodology, at least in 2000, was archaic and inflexible, and canvassers had inadequate technology in the field.

The city's supplemental efforts, particularly in immigrant communities paid off, and aggressive municipalities do better in this arena than do the passive: appealing existing estimates is a good strategy, and I am sure the city will again spend the dollars it needs, prior to and during the 2010 census, to assist the local federal count.

Congressional representation, federal funds, fair play and an accurate assessment of ourselves as a community lie in the balance.

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