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Census: N.D. lost in 1990s

BISMARCK -- North Dakota lost people between 1990 and 2000 despite earlier reports to the contrary, the Census Bureau reported Monday. The state's population was overcounted by 9,024 in 2000, giving it a revised population of 633,176 compared to ...

BISMARCK -- North Dakota lost people between 1990 and 2000 despite earlier reports to the contrary, the Census Bureau reported Monday.

The state's population was overcounted by 9,024 in 2000, giving it a revised population of 633,176 compared to its 1990 census of 638,800.

In December 2000, the Census Bureau originally said the state population had grown to 642,200.

"It's hard to say how this will impact us," Gov. John Hoeven said Monday. "Our focus continues to be creating better-paying jobs."

Hoeven also noted that this is the second time the Census Bureau has revised its estimates for North Dakota. Late last year, the Census Bureau said the state had grown more in the 1990s than originally thought.


In addition, a Census Bureau estimate showed a drop in population of 1.2 percent between 2000 and 2001.

North Dakota Democrats, who have been critical of Hoeven's economic development programs and the Republican majority in the Legislature, said the report was no surprise.

"All you had to do was look at the tax returns," said Sen. Joel Heitkamp, D-Hankinson. "It's disappointing, but it doesn't surprise me."

Democratic-NPL Party Executive Director Vern Thompson said, "That's not surprising, and we've been saying all along outmigration is a problem in North Dakota."

The Census Bureau released details Monday of which states it overcounted and undercounted.

The Census Bureau said its 2000 count was least accurate in Indiana and Minnesota and most accurate in New Mexico and Colorado. A detailed report released Monday shows the census-takers didn't miss by much in any state.

States in the Midwest had the highest overcounts, while Texas and California had some of the largest numbers of people missed, along with parts of the mid-Atlantic and rural West. Two other big states, New York and Illinois, had overcounts.

The latest estimates will not affect the government's official population count of 281.4 million in 2000. Nor will it affect how the government distributes at least $185 billion to the states for social services and programs such as Medicare, or the redrawing of congressional and local political district boundaries.


Still, census officials say they are releasing the estimates to prove how well it counted U.S. residents in the once-a-decade head count. All but 10 states and the District of Columbia had overcounts.

Conceivably, the new figures could be used by cities, counties and advocates for minorities in lawsuits arguing that blacks, Hispanics and other groups were underrepresented.

"There are still some troubling issues with the data," said associate census director Preston Jay Waite.

How well the Census Bureau counts the population, and what to do about errors that are uncovered, has been a contentious issue.

Congressional Democrats and civil rights leaders maintain the bureau has not ensured that minorities are counted fully.

Critics say the bureau should have used a complicated statistical method called sampling to make up for historic undercounts of minorities.

Opponents of that method, mainly Republicans, have said the latest estimates prove sampling actually inserts more error into a census they contend is one of the most accurate in history.

National findings released in March showed an overcount of whites, Asians, American Indians on reservations and young children, while many blacks and Hispanics were missed.


The Census Bureau estimates it was most off in Minnesota, where it overcounted the state's population of

4.9 million by 1.7 percent. Indiana was overcounted by

1.6 percent.

Nevada and Montana had the largest percentage of people undercounted, at 0.5 percent.

The bureau guesses it came closest in Colorado, where it overcounted the state's population of 4.3 million by 331 people, or 0.01 percent. In New Mexico, it undercounted by 321 people, or 0.02 of the state's 1.8 million residents.

California had the largest numerical undercount. The bureau said it missed more than 44,000 people in a state originally counted at close to 33.9 million. It had the largest numerical overcount in Illinois, double-counting 174,000 of the state's 12.4 million residents.

The Associated Press contributed information to this story Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830

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