Group aims for accurate census count Minorities, homeless previously undercounted

November 03, 1998|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Because an estimated 101,000 Marylanders went uncounted in the last federal census, the state of Maryland has formed a committee to ensure an accurate enumeration in the year 2000.

The census count is considered important because millions in government funds are awarded based on population and income criteria. Political representation is also based on the census count.

"By providing a statistical profile of our communities, the 2000 Census will tell us and future generations about the way we lived at the dawn of the new millennium," said state Planning Director Ronald M. Kreitner.

"The minority, homeless and immigrant population is a concern," Kreitner said.

He described the Governor's Statewide Complete Count Committee as a group of several hundred people who will brainstorm strategies aimed at locating those people whom traditional census-taking methods might miss.

"We want to gain the confidence of those groups who weren't well-counted before," Kreitner said.

Based on a federal study called the 1990 Census Post Enumeration Survey, Maryland's count was found to be low in several ethnic and demographic areas.

"The undercount was not evenly distributed throughout the population," said Michel Lettre, assistant director of Maryland's Office of Planning.

Lettre said that as a group, Maryland blacks were undercounted by 4.3 percent; black males were undercounted by 5 percent; the undercount rate for people of Hispanic origin was 6.2 percent; and whites and Asian-Pacific people were undercounted by 1.4 percent. Of all those undercounted, Lettre said, 54 percent were below the age of 18.

Invitations have been mailed to dozens of Maryland public institutions and businesses, asking for volunteers to join the committee.

Pub Date: 11/03/98

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