Census Participation Is Vital For Queens
Queens exceeded two million in population for the first time in the 2000 U.S. Census. Beginning March 1, the 2010 Census count will start when questionnaires are mailed to homes. “It’s so important,” Borough President Helen Marshall said. “Ten years ago, our borough was dramatically undercounted.”
According to the U.S. Census, the population in Queens as of April 1, 2000 was 2,229,379. That was an increase of 14.2 percent from 1990 (1,951,598 people) and a net increase of 277,781, accounting for 40 percent of the growth in New York City’s 2000 population count of 8,008,278, which was the largest enumerated census population in the city’s history.
Marshall, speaking at a joint meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet and the Queens Chamber of Commerce on February 2, reminded those present that the average participation rate in Queens for the 2000 Census was 54 percent, 13 percent less than the national average. “That should be upsetting to all of us,” Marshall said in her January 26 State of the Borough speech when she was sworn in for her third term.
“Federal aid is essential for many of our medical and other needs and that is why another goal of my third term is to dramatically increase the number of our residents counted in the upcoming census,” she said. As such, Marshall has created a count committee in the borough, designed to mobilize community, civic, business, immigrant, and faith-based groups in an effort to make certain that the census reflects an accurate count.
In 2002, after the 2000 count was final, the U.S. Census released figures showing an undercount in New York City of more than 103,000 people, with the highest percentage of missed population, at greater than 4 percent, coming in two census tracts in the North Corona neighborhood of Queens.
“We cannot afford to lose a seat in the House of Representatives any more than we can afford to lose important projects because of a lack of federal funds,” she said in the January 26 address. “Organizations seeking government funding are subject to information and scrutiny contained in census data that documents our population and needs.”
New York state lost two seats in Congress after the 2000 Census count.
Another way Marshall intends to encourage participation in the 2010 Census is through the Queens General Assembly. “The group’s community dialogue project will promote multicultural civic participation in all 14 community boards with the information available in 28 languages from the U.S. Census,” she said.
Marshall also asked members of the Queens Chamber of Commerce to display information posters in their businesses and facilities.
The questionnaires have just 10 questions that should require no more than 10 minutes to respond to, according to the Census officials. “The census is immigration neutral,” Marshall said, reminding residents that their legal immigration status is not a factor in the U.S. Census. “Let’s show our federal government this year that we know just how important it is for each of us to be counted,” she said.