On Tuesday, Detroit sued the United States Census Bureau over population estimates from last year that show the city lost an additional 7,100 residents, opening another front in a battle over how its people have been counted in the past two years.
According to Mayor Mike Duggan, the city wants the Census Bureau to reveal the formula it used to calculate population loss estimates. Duggan claimed the bureau was violating its own policy by refusing to reveal its formula to Detroit and not allowing challenges this year.
The bureau temporarily suspended its program allowing local governments to challenge their population estimates two years ago in order to devote more resources to the once-a-decade census.
The city of Detroit filed the lawsuit after appealing the 2020 census data, which showed the city had 639,111 residents, while 2019 estimates put the city’s population at 670,052 residents.
Census and population undercounts could cost Detroit tens of millions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade.
“We have no idea what formula they could possibly have used.” “Duggan stated on Tuesday. “We have no idea what formula they used because they refuse to tell us.””
According to Duggan, 14 new apartment buildings opened in Detroit last year. DTE Energy reported 7,544 new utility accounts, while the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department reported new service to 6,964 housing units, he added.
According to Duggan, the US Postal Service has also stated that it will deliver mail to 4,475 additional residences in the city.
“It’s now clear that data from the United States Census Bureau is completely divorced from reality,” he said. “We’re drawing a line in the sand, and we’re going to try, one way or another, to force accuracy out of these guys.”
“I think the formula would show the error in their calculations, but if we get a formula that shows they’re right, we’ll admit it,” Duggan added.
Because of the delays in releasing the 2020 census figures, the Census Bureau broke with tradition and did not base its 2021 population estimates solely on census figures. Instead, statisticians “blended” the 2020 census data with other data sets to form the foundation of annual population estimates used to help distribute $1.5 trillion in federal funding each year and track annual population change through 2030. Following a national head count in which the Census Bureau acknowledged that a higher percentage of African Americans were undercounted than the previous decade, Detroit is among several large cities to file a challenge to its 2020 census figures.
Since December 2021, leaders of Michigan’s largest city, which is more than three-quarters Black, have questioned the results of the 2020 census, when they released a report claiming that more than 8% of occupied homes in ten Detroit neighborhoods may have been undercounted.
In a letter to the Census Bureau, Duggan stated that insufficient resources and census takers were devoted to the count in Detroit, resulting in an undercount of unoccupied homes that could result in the omission of tens of thousands of residents.
“If the census is not accurate, then the annual population numbers that guide hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid to communities and families are not accurate either,” said Lawrence, vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “I successfully advanced language related to the Census Bureau’s funding bill for the upcoming fiscal year that directs the bureau to expand the scope of the Population Estimates Challenge Program so that cities across the country have a real chance to improve the accuracy of their annual numbers.”