One city that challenged the 2020 census numbers in hopes of increasing its official population ended up losing three people after they appealed.

WASHINGTON — Some of the largest U.S. cities contesting their 2020 census numbers aren’t getting the results they hoped for from the U.S. Census Bureau — Memphis’ attempt to increase its official population resulted in three people being counted out of the initial count. of his number. .

Some success has been achieved in the fight against the total number of “group facilities” – dormitories, prisons and nursing homes. They were among the most difficult to count as college campuses were closed and prisons and nursing homes closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Census Bureau was created separate program deal with these problems.

Census Bureau received a total of over 100 entries for the two competitions from cities, towns and villages of all sizes across the US

The issues won’t affect how many congressional seats each state won during the apportionment process, or the more detailed numbers used to redraw political lines. But the new numbers could affect how the federal government distributes $1.5 trillion in transportation, health programs and other funding that matters most to cities.

State, tribal and local governments have until the end of June to file complaints, and any changes will be reflected in future population estimates, which are calculated each year between censuses.

That’s where the problems lie for Austin, Boston, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee and Phoenix.


Austin, ranked as the 11th most populous city in the US with 964,000 residents, claimed that 7,329 housing units were missed. With an average household size in Austin of 2.4 people in 2020, this could mean that more than 17,500 residents are not counted.

The Census Bureau, however, added only one housing unit and provided little information about its methodology, officials in the Texas capital said.

“This result is incredibly disappointing and upsetting,” Mayor Kirk Watson said in a letter to the bureau.

City officials plan to meet with Census Bureau officials soon to get a more detailed explanation of how Bureau officials reached their decision.


Officials in Boston, the center of higher education, believed the 2020 census missed more than 6,000 students live in university housing and 419 inmates in local prisons. The Census Bureau approved the application from Boston, which according to the 2020 census had 675,647 residents, of whom the city claimed 41,776 were students living in student housing.

“Unsurprisingly, many of these special populations were miscounted due to the untimely and completely unexpected onset of a global pandemic that happened to coincide perfectly with the 2020 count,” said Susan Strutt, senior program manager at the UMass Donahue Institute. , who helped Boston in his challenge.


Detroit filed two summonses. One said the count calculated Michigan’s largest city with 8% occupancy, overlooking tens of thousands of residents. The 2020 census found 639,111 Detroit residents, up from a 2019 population estimate of 670,052.

Detroit has had success with the cluster block task alone, adding 1,478 more people to 61 cluster blocks, said Corey McIsaac, the city’s deputy director of media relations.

Detroit plans to challenge annual population estimates through a separate program.


Memphis launched two calls talking about the census missed 15,895 residents, and that Memphis has grown since 2010, for the first time in 50 years. However, the 2020 census found 633,104 residents, down 13,785 from 2010.

Memphis was unsuccessful in its appeal of the housing count, which the city said left more than 10,700 people missing. The Census Bureau actually subtracted the housing unit and three residents, a finding Memphis disputes. Another challenge concerns the misuse of geographic boundaries, which affected more than 5,100 people and is still pending.

“The census count was in error,” Alison Fuchs, chief communications officer for Memphis, said in an email. “The returns we’ve seen in investment in Memphis, particularly downtown, over the past few years tell a different story.”


Wisconsin’s largest city has succeeded in its claim that more than 800 inmates were missed, part of a challenge organized with other Wisconsin municipalities.

Another appeal by Milwaukee is still pending, alleging that 16,500 residents were underserved in homes and apartments, mostly in communities of color. As of the 2020 census, Milwaukee had a population of 577,222, down about 3% from 2010.


Phoenix is ​​awaiting a response to its challenge to count group quarters, alleging that 3,500 people in 192 properties were missed, according to a letter from Mayor Kate Gallego obtained through a public records request.

The city said two jails were neglected, along with drug and alcohol treatment centers, a group home for people with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease and a residential home for juveniles in need of mental health treatment.

The census determined that Phoenix was the fastest growing large city in the United States between 2010 and 2020, increasing by 11.2% to 1.6 million residents and making it the fifth most populous city in the United States.

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