Detroit Sues Census Bureau: Data Is 'Divorced From Reality'

City says agency is undercounting its residents
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 20, 2022 12:30 PM CDT
Updated Sep 20, 2022 12:38 PM CDT
Detroit Sues Census Bureau After Sagging Estimates
Detroit skyline.   (Getty Images / Rick Goltowski)

Detroit sued the US Census Bureau on Tuesday over population estimates from last year that show the city lost an additional 7,100 residents, opening another front against the agency in a battle over how its people have been counted in the past two years. Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters the bureau was going against its own policy by refusing to divulge to Detroit its formula and not allowing challenges this year. Detroit's lawsuit follows the city's appeal of the 2020 census data that showed Detroit with 639,111 residents, while estimates from 2019 put the city’s population at 670,052 residents.

Undercounts from the census and population estimates could cost Detroit tens of millions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade, reports the AP. "It's now clear the data coming out of the US Census Bureau is completely divorced from reality,” Duggan said Tuesday. Duggan said 14 new apartment buildings opened in Detroit last year. DTE Energy has said 7,544 new utility accounts have been added, while the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department said new service has been added to 6,964 housing units, he added. The US Postal Service also has said it is delivering mail to 4,475 more residences in the city, according to Duggan.

"I think what the formula would show—it would show the error in their calculations, but if we get a formula that turns out they're right, we’ll admit they're right,” Duggan added. Because of delays in releasing the 2020 census numbers, the Census Bureau broke with tradition and didn’t rely only on census figures for creating the foundation of its 2021 estimates of the US population. Instead, statisticians “blended” the 2020 census numbers with other data sets. The bureau two years ago temporarily suspended its program allowing local governments to challenge their population estimates so that more resources could be devoted to the execution of the once-a-decade census. (The AP has more on Detroit's allegations here.)

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