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Census Missed 103,000 In City, Many In Hispanic Areas


December 7, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

The Census Bureau has released figures showing that the 2000 census missed more than 103,000 people in New York City, many of them in heavily Hispanic areas.

Bureau officials released undercount data for states, counties and neighborhoods on Thursday after a federal appeals court ruled earlier this year that the public was entitled to see the numbers under open-government laws. But the officials issued a disclaimer, saying that the figures were the product of statistical adjustment methods that were flawed and that they were no better than the unadjusted numbers.

The figures, however, seem to confirm that the 2000 count was an improvement over the 1990 census and in less need of adjustment, although the missing would still include vast numbers of the poor, minority groups and others who have historically been overlooked. According to the numbers released this week, the 2000 census missed 3.2 million people nationwide, 202,049 of them in New York State.

In New York City, the new figures indicate an overall undercount of 103,856 people, or 1.3 percent of the 8,008,278 people counted in the 2000 census. That was much lower than the 229,622 people missed in the 1990 census. But the undercount was the worst in areas with large concentrations of Hispanics, who have had low census participation in the past because of language barriers and high numbers of immigrants who are in the country illegally or suspicious of government, said Andrew A. Beveridge, a Queens College sociologist who analyzes census data for The New York Times.

Of the six census tracts where the undercount was the highest, over 4 percent, two were in East Harlem in Manhattan, two in North Corona in Queens and two in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Professor Beveridge said.

Democrats from New York and other big cities with large undercounted populations had sued the Bush administration for release of the data. Administration officials decided not to adjust for an undercount for purposes of drawing Congressional districts.

Benjamin Chevat, chief of staff for Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, who represents Manhattan and Queens and was among the Democrats who sued, said the figures were important to help spot the specific areas where the most people were missed and to better judge the overall accuracy of the census.

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