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Finkbeiner urges better census count

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2009 (AP): A Toledo, Ohio mayor on Thursday urged the government to step up efforts improve its census count of minorities and the unemployed, saying cities are losing critical federal aid because of wrong figures.

Testifying before a U.S. House panel, Mayor Carleton Finkbeiner said he was so skeptical of government estimates of his city's population that he asked city staff and a nonprofit group last year to take a second look at the U.S. Census Bureau's address list. His staff subsequently identified more than 1,400 homes that had been missed. The Census Bureau is now revising Toledo’s 2007 population figure by more than 20,000.

Mayor Carleton Finkbeiner

``My experiences in attempting to get an accurate count of Toledo ... have been rather frustrating,'' Finkbeiner said. ``One thing I know for sure—there are more men and women living in mobile housing conditions, in bleaker environments and in growing numbers. Our responsibility is to find out how to get each and every one of these individuals counted by the U.S. census.''

Finkbeiner testified at a congressional hearing that addressed ways to improve the population count in the final months before the 2010 census. He said that if the Census Bureau continues to miss minorities and displaced homeowners as has been historically the case, cities like his with high unemployment rates that will be harmed the most.

Errors acknowledged by Census
Acting census director Thomas Mesenbourg said cities often challenge census estimates and the government will revise them if there is evidence of an error. He also acknowledged that the 2010 census will be one of the bureau's most challenging counts and said the government will have to rely heavily on community groups to help get the word out.

The Census Bureau has estimated that about $435.7 billion in federal aid is distributed, based on its population figures. Finkbeiner says he is still trying to see what additional federal aid the city should get as a result.

``If you think there is a recession going on in 48 states, come to Michigan and Ohio,'' he said. ``In the heart of cities, there is a significant proportion of African-American, Asian, and Latino populations, and we can't have that undercounted,'' Finkbeiner said. ``That is something the Census Bureau needs to make a commitment to.''






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