The 2020 Census was a disappointment for Arizona, and the Grand Canyon state needs to demand a mulligan.
The US Census Bureau announced that Arizona won’t get a new Congressional seat based on apportionment data released last week, even though Arizona’s population jumped from 6.4 million people in 2010 to 7.1 million in 2020.
The problem is, Census estimates conducted a year earlier estimated the state’s population at 7.4 million, which gave people who pay close attention to these things full confidence that Arizona would get to add a new congressional seat for the next decade. After all, that’s what has happened every decade since the 1960s Census, and with the way Arizona has been growing -- just look around! -- there was every reason to think that trend would continue.
But then Covid happened.
The coronavirus pandemic hit America hard right, right when Census efforts were getting under way, and it’s clear that the country’s decennial population count suffered as a result. At this time last year, the Census Bureau was planning to dispatch around 140,000 workers to help count people who hadn’t responded to the online forms, but those efforts were hampered by stay-at-home orders, illnesses and general fear and uncertainty.
Time for a do-over.
That’s never happened in the country’s 245 years, but while unprecedented, there doesn’t seem to be any federal law that prevents the president or Congress from starting over. Of course, that’s an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. But it’s worth it. Census numbers matter for representation -- but they also help the government determine how to spend $675 billion each year on things like highway construction, education, and federal programs like Medicare.
There’s simply no reason the estimates should have been as far off as they ended up being. The 2020 Census numbers seem to be a pretty bad reflection of where our population stands as a state, and that could have big financial implications. The Arizona Complete Count Committee predicted that even a 1 percent undercount would represent a $62 million annual loss to the state.
Yes, it’s definitely in Arizona’s interest for the country to get this count right.
Let’s do it again.
— Today’s News-Herald