U.Va. Demographers Improve Census Coverage

September 29, 2009 — Under an $80,000 grant award from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, demographers at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service are working to improve the U.S. Census Bureau's address lists for Virginia, making certain that high-growth areas are accurately captured in the upcoming 2010 census.

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The Census Bureau takes a formal count of the U.S. population every 10 years, and the results determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, are used in reapportionment of Congressional and state legislative districts and are a factor in awarding federal grants.

"It is essential that every Virginia resident is counted," said Qian Cai, director of the Cooper Center's Demographics and Workforce group.

Under the grant to the Cooper Center, demographers examine address lists in high-growth areas and compare them to the available lists at the Census Bureau. The focus of the work is to identify clusters containing more than 50 adjacent residential addresses (such as new subdivisions) that are missing from the census address list.

Throughout the fall, three Cooper Center demographers are working to collect, clean and compile data from GIS coordinators at counties and cities throughout Virginia. The compiled data will be submitted to the Census Bureau in November. In February the demographers will participate in a final review at Census Bureau headquarters, so that the Census Bureau can make necessary updates to their lists in time for Census Day, which is April 1, 2010.

In a similar project last year, Cooper Center demographers identified more than 2,000 potentially undercounted group quarters facilities, such as dormitories, prisons and nursing homes.

"The Census Bureau wisely relies on state-based experts to review address lists," Cai said, "and we are pleased to have this opportunity to help improve the census coverage and accuracy for Virginia."

— By Meredith Gunter