Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Census Bureau finds another 31,528 people in Washington, D.C.

By Nancy Jane Moore

Responding to a challenge filed by city officials, the U.S. Census Bureau changed its 2005 estimate of Washington, D.C.'s population from 550,521 to 582,049 -- a jump of 31,528. The new figure also means that the city's population grew over by almost 2 percent over the last five years, instead of falling by about 4 percent.

Given the booming area economy and the fact that every street you walk on seems to be a construction zone -- not to mention the high-flying real estate market -- the revised figures make much more sense than the earlier estimate. In fact, I can't quite figure out how they missed them the first time. Misplacing 5 percent of the population seems like a pretty big error to me.

The Washington Post quotes Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey as calling this increase "a big deal." It makes up for losses in the 1990s, he noted.

Mayor Anthony Williams -- who wants to see the city's population jump by 100,000 -- was also happy about the new figure, according to the Post. The population has grown by about 10,000 since 2000.

The Census Bureau didn't do much to let people know about the change -- no press release, just an email to city officials and a tiny, hard-to-find chart on its webpage showing the cities whose challenges to 2005 estimates were approved. The main population charts haven't been corrected yet.

By the way, the District has quite a few more people than Wyoming and we're not that much smaller than North Dakota, Alaska and Vermont. All of these states have three things we don't have: two senators and a voting member in the House of Representatives.

And unlike the people of Puerto Rico and other territories, who also have no vote in Congress, we pay federal taxes. If you were paying attention in history class, you probably remember that one of the causes of the American Revolution was taxation without representation. Unfortunately, unfair voting plans in the U.S. didn't end with the American Revolution.

If you'd like to help in our ongoing fight for representation in Congress, check out DC Vote.

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