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City to fight Census data showing boro lost 1,600

The Census Bureau estimates actually showed a slight increase in New York...

By Philip Newman

The U.S. Census Bureau has issued population estimates that show Queens lost more than 1,600 people between 2002 and 2003, figures that the city plans to challenge as inaccurate.

The Census Bureau estimates actually showed a slight increase in New York City’s overall population at 8,085,742 but slight losses in both Queens and Brooklyn.

The government estimates listed Queens with 2,227,172 people as of July 1, 2002 and 2,225,486 on July 1, 2003.

“We think the government’s figures are too low,” said Warren Brown, senior research associate for demography at Cornell University. “The figures on increased housing and building don’t match up with a loss of population.”

Rachaele Raynoff of the New York City Department of Planning, said “the city will most certainly let the Census Bureau know that we take issue with their figures showing a loss of population.”

“The problem may be the system the Census Bureau uses,” said Brown, whose agency has a contract with the city of New York.

Brown said the Census Bureau uses Internal Revenue Service statistics on migration, which may not result in accurate figures on population gains and losses.

He said it would require anywhere from three to six months to find out whether the Census Bureau accepted or rejected a challenge to its own findings.

“This report of a population loss in Queens is not surprising but is disappointing,” said Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

“These population reports are of the utmost importance to Queens because we rely heavily on them for federal funding,” Andrews said. “We have long made a tremendous effort to inform people on filling our Census forms and assure our new residents that it is safe to provide such necessary information.”

Andrews said part of the difficulty in getting information for a census may have been the “doubled-up” trend in housing in much of Queens with many houses divided into several apartments, making it harder to find out who lives where.

Brooklyn’s estimated population fell by 3,127 between 2002 and 2003, according to the new estimates and the population in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island rose slightly.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau is conducting a test of computerized information gathering techniques in northwest Queens and in rural Georgia that the federal bureau may use throughout the United States to try to give a more accurate picture of the population in the 2010 Census.

A meeting was scheduled to take place this week at Borough Hall between Marshall and census officials involving clarifications on some questions posed to residents in census blanks already mailed to thousands of households in northwest Queens.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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