N.D. census news
If memory serves, the WPA Guide to North Dakota (which was written during the Depression in the 1930s) describes Grand Forks' southern boundary as being 13th Avenue South, near the "new" Lincoln Park. So, by 1946, would the southern edge have dropped down to, say, 17th Avenue South? Probably not; Red River High School on 17th Avenue South opened in 1967, and people say the school practically was in the countryside then (as South Middle School is today.) In any event, it's fun to look at the postcard and remember that in 1946, the entire city limits of Grand Forks didn't extend very far beyond the edges of the photo!
Now, about the census: I can add to the discussion of the North Dakota census taking place here and here. The Herald editorial board met with U.S. Bureau of the Census director Charles Louis Kincannon on Monday; he visited along with some members of Gov. John Hoeven's staff. Kincannon is in North Dakota because Hoeven and other state leaders have protested so strongly about the annual census updates, which are issued using information provided by the State Data Center at NDSU. "If a state shows that much interest in the census, then we're interested in that state," Kincannon said (that's a paraphrase, not an exact quote).
The basic problem is shown by these figures, which Dale Wetzel of the Associated Press reported on the other day:
"The agency pegged North Dakota's population at 633,666 on July 1, 1999. In the census count the following year, it jumped to 642,200, an increase of 13.4 percent. However, in 2001, the population estimate showed a steep decline, to 634,448."
What's important is that the middle figure -- 642,200 -- represents the actual count, the 2000 census that's taken by everyone to be authoritative. Or is it? Because when tracked against the state Data Center's estimates as shown here (for the 1990s) and here (for 2001 and beyond), the actual count in 2000 is a spike, one that almost seems to have been dismissed by the center in its insistence on holding onto its estimating methods.
The state is taking two actions to try to make the annual estimates more accurate; Kincannon raised no objection to either of them. The first is a law passed a session or two ago to send some drivers license info to the IRS, in order to find out how many snowbirds call N.D. their home of record (on their drivers license) while filing their federal tax returns in, say, Arizona.
"Ron Raushenberger, Gov. John Hoeven's deputy chief of staff, said federal tax return data counts about 12,000 fewer resident North Dakota filiers than state data shows," The AP reported.
"'It's not a small difference,' Rauschenberger said."
North Dakota -- the only state to have passed such a drivers license/IRS law, by the way -- now has sent the relevant info to the Census Department, and the department should release its findings in a few months.
The second effort was the creation of the North Dakota Census Committee, which Hoeven set up as a direct result of his unhappiness with the Census Bureau's annual estimates. The committee is meant to provide more input to the State Data Center. The center, in turn, will send better numbers to the Census Bureau, and the bureau will offer up more accurate official estimates as a result.
The five-member committee includes officials from the state Office of Management and Budget, Tax Department and Job Service; State Data Center Director Richard Rathge; and Rod Backman, the former OMB director who's now a private consultant. For my part, I don't see the committee's influence turning up yet in the census estimates, but over time I expect to.