Report estimate: Census didn't find 15,000 Alaskans

Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2002

ANCHORAGE - A U.S. Census Bureau estimate of the number of people missed in the 2000 census indicates 15,000 Alaskans weren't counted, the largest percentage undercount of any state.

The estimate includes an apparent undercount of nearly 1,000 people in Juneau.

But the federal agency and the state demographer say the number may not mean much.

"The problem is, the whole adjustment procedure doesn't work in Alaska very well, partly because there wasn't an adjustment survey done in rural areas," said Greg Williams, the state demographer.

The adjustment would add 2.4 percent to Alaska's official 2000 census total of 626,932 residents, bringing the population to just over 642,000.

The political ramifications likely would be minimal in Alaska. State and local lawmakers in some parts of the United States could use the numbers to allocate government dollars or lobby for more federal money.

The Census Bureau last year decided the unadjusted numbers would be used for congressional redistricting and federal allocations.

The agency had not planned to release the adjusted data, which uses statistical sampling to calculate how many people were missed by the national head count. Census officials say the figures are flawed and "dramatically overestimate" the number of people they missed.

But in October a federal appeals court ordered the government to release the data.

Looking at the revised numbers, the biggest potential adjustments would be in State Senate Districts B, H, N, and O.

District N had the largest estimated undercount, 1,177 people. That district covers parts of south Anchorage. District H, in Chugiak and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had an estimated undercount of 1,073. District O, with a potential adjustment of 950, is another south Anchorage area, and District B, with 945 people presumed uncounted, is in Juneau. The bulk of those adjustments involve adding more whites to the numbers.

The adjustment for the big Senate District C, which stretches from Southeast Alaska to the Interior villages, would be 734 people, 426 of them whites and 189 Alaska Natives. District T, the Bering Straits and Arctic regions, would have an adjustment of just 364 people, 190 of them Natives.

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