The debate about the census population count of New York City continues. In “10,000 Missing in Astoria? What the Stats Say,” City Limits’ Johann Hamilton explores a variety of changes in Astoria, Queens, over the past decade, and talks to people who question the numbers, as well as Social Explorer’s Andrew Beveridge, who has stated that the lower growth in New York City is probably accurate.
Many people have been questioning the accuracy of the 2010 Census, which reported a 10,000-person exodus from Astoria and roughly 20,000 people moving to lower Staten Island. Although those numbers sound unbelievable, other numbers suggest that arguments can be made for or against the Census findings.
On the other end of the spectrum is Andrew Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College and New York Times consultant. He thinks there’s a possibility that the 2010 Census could be fine the way it is.
“Apparently it’s a radical position these days to think that the census was correct,” he said. “I know how angry mayors get when the numbers are lower than they think they should be. I think that people have a tendency to over-count themselves left to their own devices. So I think that that may be what’s going on here.”
In his article “Census Wounded City’s Pride But Probably Got The Numbers Right,” Beveridge lists several possible explanations which could exonerate the Census, including immigrants leaving New York en masse due to the economy, and more houses being created than there are people to actually live in them.
However, his most compelling argument is a notion which few others have entertained; he suggests that not only did the 2000 Census overcount New York City, but also that the 1990 Census undercounted it. It is easy to see how both of these errors in conjunction with each other would greatly skew the most recent Census, which is why he claims that it is mostly accurate, except for the percentages indicating growth and loss of population.
Regardless of the accuracy of the 2010 count, the odds of the numbers changing are slim. This is because in order for the Census Bureau to alter the numbers, the error must be the result of a processing error, not an error in the counting. Of course, there is always the chance of a processing error somewhere, but most likely not one large enough to give an accurate account of how many people New Yorkers think were uncounted.
“In this scenario, the Census is the champion,” according to Beverdige. “Everyone else is the contender, and if they want the Census to change, they’ll have to knock it out.”
Click here to read the full article, and here for Andrew Beveridge’s Gotham Gazette column on the census count.