County Disputing 2020 Census Results
Liberty County will challenge the 2020 census results, County Administrator Joey Brown said at last week’s meeting of the Hinesville area metropolitan planning organization.
According to Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission Executive Director Jeff Ricketson, the final count of the 2020 census indicated that Liberty County, including the seven municipalities, had 167 fewer housing units in 2020 than in 2010. Ricketson said those numbers were incorrect. He said combined records from the Liberty County Building and Licensing Department and the Hinesville Inspections Department showed more than 1,800 homes were built during that decade.
“That means over 2,000 dwellings (households) weren’t counted in the 2020 census counts,” Ricketson said. Ricketson said government entities submit a Local Census Address Update (LUCA) to add all new addresses from the previous eight years to the federal census database. LUCA was completed in 2018, submitted by LCPC and certified by the US Census Bureau.
“We reviewed the numbers and it appears that none of the information in LUCA was used when the Census Bureau determined the population and household numbers for 2020,” Ricketson said. “This disparity could underestimate Liberty County by up to 2,000 households and up to 5,000 people.” To remedy the situation, LCPC will file a Census Count Question Resolution (CQR) and Post-Census Group Quarterly Review (PCGQR), on behalf of the county and corresponding cities, to attempt to resolve the dispute over housing count. Ricketson said the Census Bureau required block-level analysis for their appeal to be successful. This required geographic information system (GIS) expertise not available in the county. Ricketson said the county is working with the Coastal Regional Commission (CRC), which has the GIS capability to do the job. The required reports will be submitted to the US Census Bureau by the end of the year.
“CRC’s work will include spatial analysis to identify discrepancies between census-reported housing units and Liberty County residential addresses and permits,” Ricketson said. “CRC will also provide maps and web applications to assess discrepancies and edit CQR and PCGQR submission.”
Ricketson said that after the reports are submitted, the Census Bureau has 90 days to complete its review of the appeals and issue a formal response to the county.
“It should be emphasized that even if we are successful in our appeal, the officially released 2020 census figures will not change,” he said. “The official 2020 census counts will continue to be the basis for the political breakdown of federal, state and local election boundaries until the 2030 census is complete. However, the appeal is expected to result in adjustments to regular Census Bureau estimates and data going forward. This will commemorate and document the extent to which we were underestimated in the 2020 census.”
Ricketson said census numbers play a vital role in economic development, government funding formulas and community planning and that accurate numbers are essential.
Brown said he was not aware of any current projects that would be hampered by the inaccuracy of the census.
“However, potential future funding at the federal level is often allocated based on total population numbers, such as transportation subsidies,” he said.