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2010 census was largely accurate but undercounted minorities

May 22, 2012 |  2:15 pm

Census

A new analysis of the 2010 census shows that the once-a-decade head count was highly accurate, but that it undercounted several groups that have often been hard for government enumerators to tally effectively,  including blacks, Latinos, young men and renters.

All told, the Census Bureau says the survey overcounted the U.S. population by about 36,000 people, or 0.01%. That compares to an overcount of 0.49% for the 2000 census and an undercount of 1.61% in 1990.

Officials say the analysis will not change the official U.S. population of 308.7 million, or affect the federal government's census-based distribution of more than $400 billion to the states for schools, roads and other programs.

Census Director Robert Groves said that despite new outreach by the bureau, some traditionally hard-to-count groups, including Latinos and African Americans, remained a challenge for census-takers in 2010.

The analysis showed that the census missed about 2.1% of black Americans and 1.5% of Latinos, numbers that are statistically comparable to those from 2000.

Groves said that because racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately live in circumstances that make them harder to tally, they were again undercounted, despite advertising and other efforts by the bureau to improve the process.

But “without our outreach, our numbers would have been much, much worse," he said. 

The South was more likely than other regions to have people who were missed, the analysis showed, while the Northeast and Midwest had small overcounts. The West, including California, had a tiny undercount, just 0.02%, officials said.

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— Rebecca Trounson

Photo: Census Director Robert Groves announces the results for the 2010 census. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

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