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Some US states succeed in getting 2020 census numbers double-checked, increased

Several states, including California and Illinois, have requested reviews of their 2020 census figures, leading to adjustments in their population totals.

Illinois is adding tens of thousands of people to its population total, and California is getting misplaced sailors on an aircraft carrier put in the right location, after successfully asking for a review of their 2020 census figures.

New York City also appears to have gotten an additional 1,090 people added to its population total recently, after asking the Census Bureau to double-check the city’s numbers from the head count of every U.S. resident, city officials said.

The once-a-decade census produces population figures that help determine political power and the annual distribution of $2.8 trillion in federal funding. The Census Bureau has two programs giving state governments opportunities to have their population totals reviewed and adjusted if need be. Nearly 200 requests for reviews were filed by tribal, local and state governments for the 2020 census.


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Changes from the reviews will be applied only to future annual population estimates used for the rest of the decade in determining federal funding. They cannot be used to change how many congressional seats each state was allotted during the apportionment process, nor for the data used for redrawing political districts.

Here is a look at how two of the most populous U.S. states, and the nation’s largest city, had their reviews resolved recently.

For the nation’s most populous state, with 38.9 million residents, it was more about putting things in the right place rather than adding people.

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The placement of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, along with its more than 5,000 crew members, was corrected so that it is in National City, California, rather than in neighboring San Diego. Although part of the ship is located in San Diego, what matters is where crew members get off and on the ship, and that part of Naval Base San Diego is in National City, state officials said.

The 4,000 prisoners at the Mule Creek State Prison were also reallocated from Amador County to the city of Ione after California requested that change.

The reviews for California were “just an opportunity to suggest to the bureau that some things are in the wrong place,” Walter Schwarm, the state’s chief demographer, said in an email.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced this month that the nation’s sixth most populous state was getting an additional 47,000 people to its population total after the state asked for a review of its census figures. Illinois officials believed that the 2020 census had overlooked more than 40,500 people living in care homes or senior living facilities and more than 5,800 college students living in dorms, the governor’s office said.

These “group quarters” were among the most difficult places to count as campuses closed and prisons and nursing homes were locked down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Census Bureau created a separate program to handle these challenges.

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“This correction will bring in millions in additional federal funding for crucial programs and help to ensure future counts reflect the true number of Illinois residents,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Despite the gains from the review, they will not come close to making up for the loss of almost 264,000 residents since the 2020 census due to people moving from Illinois to other states, according to estimates released in December by the Census Bureau. Only California and New York have had greater population losses from 2020 to 2023.

Illinois also was one of six states that were undercounted in the 2020 census. The Census Bureau estimated that a little less than 2% of Illinois’ 12.5 million residents were missed.

The Census Bureau appears to have added 1,090 people to New York City, the most populous city in the U.S. The exact figure is unknown since the bureau does not tell governments precisely how much the total was changed, only that all or part of their review was approved. City officials estimated the adjustment by comparing changes in numbers that are released annually with population estimates from the Census Bureau, said officials in the city’s Department of City Planning.

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New York City officials believed hundreds of inmates and students at Hunter College, Pace University and Wagner College were missed in its 2020 count. Although the adjustment is comparatively small in a city of 8.3 million residents, city officials believe it could amount to an additional $6.5 million each year in federal funding that the city receives.

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“Through grit, rigorous study, and careful tabulations, we were able to correct the census count and deliver more federal dollars for New York City,” Dan Garodnick, director of the Department of City Planning, said in an email.

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