Calls for a special census as Naperville continues to grow

There is some evidence that Naperville has grown since the 2010 Census – and a special census would be able to prove it.

This would be the first special census in Naperville since 2008 and would follow other special counts taken in 2003 and four times between 1990 and 2000 during a period of major expansion…

Some subdivisions on Naperville’s southwest side are still filling with residents and the city has approved a few new housing developments in recent years…

“If things in Springfield were normal, which they haven’t been for a long time, each additional body would have been worth $100,” Krieger said. “This year there has been a lot of discussion about reducing that amount.”

Conducting the special census could cost between $80,000 and $140,000, depending on how many census tracts the city decides to count. Officials would want to be certain a tract has seen enough new residents — based on building permits and occupancy certificates — before counting it.

It sounds like this is all about money: proof of more residents = more state dollars. Many communities could use such cash but as this story points out, there has to be enough growth to outweigh the costs of conducting the census. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the reverse where communities conduct a census to track population loss; that would be a double cost.

Another note: population growth can translate into funding but it can also add to a community’s image. If it hasn’t already, Naperville is very close to being a built-out suburb. Yet, we generally have the idea in the United States that good communities are growing communities. A special census could suggest Naperville is still attractive.

Except more communities to challenge 2010 Census counts

Amidst an economic crisis that has also affected many municipal budgets, expect more communities to appeal the 2010 Census counts:

Cities have two years to contest their counts under the Census Bureau’s appeals process, which began this month…

In recent decades, the peak for challenges was 6,600, or 17 percent of all U.S. jurisdictions, in 1990, when the census missed four million people, including five percent of all blacks and Hispanics.

In 2000, roughly 1,200 jurisdictions, or 3 percent, contested the count. The net change due to census challenges that year was just 2,700 people.

Apart from the challenges, analysts later determined the 2000 census had an overcount of 1.3 million people, due mostly to duplicate counts of more affluent whites with multiple residences. About 4.5 million people were ultimately missed, mostly blacks and Hispanics.

Interestingly, the article suggests that while government dollars are behind these challenges, it is also about the “psychological impact” on civic pride. I wonder who exactly will appeal: St. Louis, Chicago, and a host of other Rust Belt cities lost population and New York City didn’t have the population increase that was expected. Since budgets are tight everywhere, could we even get appeals from places like Houston which experienced sizable growth?

It would also be interesting to hear how exactly the Census Bureau adjusts these figures based on subsequent analyses of overcounts and undercounts. This is a reminder that Census figures are not perfect even as many things, including many social science studies based on population proportions calculated in the Census, are based on these figures. I am not suggesting that the Census figures are wrong but rather that it is a very complicated process that is bound to be tweaked some after the first figures are released.

Increasing numbers of blacks moving to the suburbs

One of the important shifts revealed in the 2010 Census is the increasing number of minorities in the American suburbs (also see the thoughts of the 2010 Census director here). This is particularly true of blacks who have moved from the city to the suburbs and this raises some concerns about the future of the neighborhoods they are leaving behind:

Taylor’s decision to live outside Chicago makes him part of a shift tracked by the 2010 Census that surprised many demographers and urban planners: He is among hundreds of thousands of blacks who moved away from cities with long histories as centers of African-American life, including Chicago, Oakland, Washington, New Orleans and Detroit…

Chicago’s population fell by 200,418 from 2000 to 2010, and blacks accounted for almost 89% of that drop. Hispanics surpassed blacks as the city’s largest minority group. Meanwhile, Plainfield grew by 204% overall, and its black population soared by more than 2,000%, the fastest rate in the region…

The trend has broad policy implications: As blacks who can afford to live in the suburbs depart, will cities have enough resources to help the low-income blacks left behind? Will the demand for housing be strong enough to support the revitalization of traditionally black inner-city neighborhoods? How will black churches, businesses and cultural institutions be affected? Will traffic congestion worsen because blacks moving to the suburbs keep their jobs in the city?

Roderick Harrison, a sociologist at Howard University in Washington and a former chief of the racial statistics branch of the Census Bureau, says the changes reflect the improving economic status of some African Americans.

Traffic seems to be a lesser issue compared to some of these bigger questions. And these questions are not new: at least since the 1980s, commentators have been asking about what may happen to urban neighborhoods and institutions when middle-class Blacks leave for the suburbs.

We could also ask about how this might change the suburbs. Are we at the point as a society where suburban residents really just care about social class, i.e. being able to buy into the suburbs and maintain a middle-class lifestyle? Or will whites leave suburban neighborhoods when Blacks move in just as they did in urban neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s? I wrote earlier about how minorities were fitting into Schaumburg, a noted edge city outside of the Chicago, and a noted historian, Thomas Sugrue, suggested that the move of Blacks to the suburbs in the Detroit region may not be all that positive. I suspect there will be a lot of discussions in suburbs about these changes, often couched in terms of issues like affordable housing (see this example from the wealthy Chicago suburb of Winnetka), property values, and the quality of schools.

It is interesting to note that Plainfield is cited in this particular story: Joliet, Plainfield, Aurora, and the suburban region far southwest of Chicago is a booming area. And if you were curious about the African-American growth in Plainfield, it was 0.8% Black in 2000 (110 out of 13,038) and is roughly 6% Black in 2010 (out of 39,581).

New York City to challenge 2010 Census figures

While 2010 Census figures have shown population drops in places like Chicago and St. Louis, New York City gained population in the 2000s. However, some think the Census undercounted the population growth:

Apoplectic city leaders Thursday scrambled for words to convey their shock after Census numbers seemed to lowball Gotham’s population growth since 2000.

The figures show the city grew only 2.1 percent, to 8,175,133. Mayor Michael Bloomberg contended that a 0.1% increase — a mere 1,343 people — of Queens residents and a wee 1.6 percent rise in Brooklynites “doesn’t make any sense.” The city will challenge the findings, though some observers suggested a surge in harder-to-count recent immigrants and mobile, elusive young people could in part explain a possible undercount…

Joe Salvo, NYC’s chief demographer, expressed disbelief that just 166,855 more people were added to the city, when city data showed that 170,000 new housing units had been built since 2000.

The Census Bureau will be accepting challenges starting in June. New York City last appealed its count in 1990…

The Census Bureau agrees. “The pattern in New York City is like that seen in many other large cities – higher rates of growth in suburbs than in urban cores,” the Bureau said in a statement.

Just because more housing units were built during the 2000s doesn’t not necessarily mean that the population should have gone up more. I wonder if these NYC officials have more data or evidence on which they would base their claim.

The article also notes the consequences of these figures. On one hand, federal money and Congressional seats depend on population counts. Particularly in a time of economic crisis, losing money because of an undercount would mean that the city will have to fill some financial gaps. On the other hand, there is the matter of “civic pride.” A sociologist describes this dynamic:

Unacknowledged is that modest growth injured the “pride of place” in an immodest metropolis that likes to be perceived as ever increasingly majestic and magnetic, said John Logan, a Brown University sociology professor. As Chicago winced when it fell from the nation’s second largest city to third, NY is similarly loathe to lose any ground on growth. “Some see the numbers as a sign of how good you are,” said Logan, “but that’s a mistake.”

Measuring the status of a community just by numbers is tricky, particularly when the numbers are not as strong as one would like. But American communities like to see growth – losing population (or perhaps even being stagnant) is often construed as a failure.

Even with this (undercounted?) population growth, New York City still has a sizable population lead on the next largest city: NYC has more than 4 million more people than Chicago.

Chicago’s population loss, neighborhood by neighborhood

After the recent news that Chicago lost about 200,000 residents between 2000 and 2010, the Chicago Tribune takes a look at how the population changed in each of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. Here are some of the trends:

Sixty of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods lost population, according to the 2010 Census. The focus of the population growth was in the Loop, the Near South Side and the Near West Side, areas that experienced a boom in new residential high-rises and loft developments.

The city lost more than 200,000 people during the decade, many from predominantly black neighborhoods hard hit by crime and foreclosures. More than 27,000 non-Hispanic white residents, meanwhile, poured into the city’s downtown and surrounding areas.

On the Southwest Side, the number of Hispanics and Asians grew in historically white ethnic neighborhoods such as Bridgeport, Archer Heights, West Lawn, West Elsdon and Ashburn. White populations in those communities dipped.

So the population growth took place in two places: around the downtown where wealthier whites moved in and on the southwest side where Latinos and Asians moved in. Throughout the rest of the city, the population declined.

As the City of Chicago thinks about how to respond to these figures, should they focus resources on the areas that were growing (particularly the area around the Loop which is likely to get more attention) or figure out some way to boost the prospects of the 60 other neighborhoods that experienced population loss?

St. Louis also lost population (8%) in the 2000s and mayor says it is “absolutely bad news”

Last week, 2010 Census figures about Chicago were released and showed a population decline of 200,000. Population figures regarding St. Louis were just released and city leaders are surprised at the 8% population loss over the 2000s:

Figures from the 2010 census were a bitter disappointment, as the city’s population dipped to 319,294.

That’s down more than 29,000 – a staggering 8 percent – from 2000.

For St. Louis leaders, the news was doubly disappointing because they were expecting to see an increase.

“It is absolutely bad news,” Mayor Francis Slay said. “We thought after more than 50 years of population decline that the city had finally changed direction. Obviously, that’s not the case.”…

St. Louis was the nation’s eighth-largest city with a population of 856,795 in 1950. Now, for a couple of decades, it hasn’t even been Missouri’s largest city.

Kansas City’s population grew to 460,000 in the latest census, widening the gap over St. Louis, though the St. Louis metro area remains significantly larger.

Since the mid-20th century, the exodus of St. Louis residents to the suburbs has been startling. And people keep moving farther away from the urban core. St. Louis County lost population in 2010 for the first time, down 1.7 percent to 998,954 in 2010, as residents relocate to communities like St. Charles, O’Fallon, Wentzville and Troy.

Since 1950, St. Louis has steadily lost population. A few thoughts about these figures:

1. On one hand, it seems odd that the mayor would be caught so off-guard by these figures. Couldn’t the city have predicted or at least seen some hints of it through other measures (like vacancies)? But this is more complicated:

A census estimate on July 1, 2009, forecasted that the city’s population of 348,189 in 2000 had grown to 356,587.

Either the estimate was wrong or there has been a substantial recent exodus.

The 2010 census is based on the population in April 2010.

So what happened between this 2009 Census estimate and the 2010 figures?

2. There are two things at stake with these figures: the loss of state and federal dollars (often tied to population) and a blow to civic pride. As the mayor suggested, the city had thought they had turned a corner. Additionally, there appears to be some comparisons to Kansas City, the other major city in Missouri.

2a. But on the other hand, the trends happening in the St. Louis area are happening in many large cities: people are moving to the suburbs, further and further from the center of the metropolitan region. Even St. Louis County (suburban but three times larger than St. Louis) lost population, 1.7%, for the first time.

3. While it is notable that the population in St. Louis dropped by about 29,000 (8%), in the last sixty years, this is the smallest percentage drop since a population increase in 1950. From 1960 onward, here are the percentage decreases: -12.5% in 1960, -17% in 1970, -27.2% in 1980, -12.4% in 1990, -12.2% in 2000, and -8.3% in 2010. So perhaps the population in St. Louis is slowly stabilizing.

Edge city Schaumburg sees growing minority population, declining white population

The Chicago suburb of Schaumburg has attracted attention in recent decades for being an edge city. The community, full of office parks as well as Woodfield Mall, was mentioned six times in the book that defined edge cities. New 2010 Census figures suggest Schaumburg reflects larger population trends in the suburbs:

U.S. Census figures for 2010 showed that while the overall population of Schaumburg dipped 1.5 percent in the last decade to 74,227, most minority groups grew and the white population decreased by nearly 12 percent.

“It’s good to have that kind of mix as far as population is concerned,” said Village President Al Larson. “That says that Schaumburg is a very attractive place to come to.”

The largest minority group is Asians that number 14,731, according to the census. That’s about 38 percent more than 10 years ago…

Schaumburg’s changes are happening elsewhere,  said Mike Maly, who chairs the Sociology Department at Roosevelt University. He’s studied census numbers and the changing demographics of the Chicago area.

“What’s happening in Schaumburg is part of a larger trend in suburban Cook County,” Maly said. Minority groups are moving out of the city, and into the suburbs. At the same time, the white population seems to be moving to the outskirts of the suburban area, he said.

So like many suburbs, Schaumburg is experiencing growth in the minority population. But it is also interesting to note that the Schaumburg’s total population declined and the white population dropped by over 11 percent. Some questions should emerge out of this:

1. What is the long-term future of Schaumburg? Declining population in a suburb is not particularly a good sign.

2. Where exactly is the white population going in the Chicago suburbs? If you look at the interactive map here, one might guess that the whites are moving to the outer edges of the Chicago region.

3. On one hand, it sounds good that more minorities are moving to the suburbs, particularly communities like Schaumburg. But if white residents are moving out of these places where minorities are moving, are the same issues of residential segregation simply going to be reproduced in the suburban landscape?