Based on new estimates released on Thursday, Bloomington’s population has bumped up by 800 people compared to the 2020 census count.
The US Census Bureau (USCB) now estimates the city of Bloomington to have 79,968 residents. That’s as of July 1, 2021. The USCB calls this set of estimates the Vintage 2021 population estimates.
While some amount of estimated growth could be encouraging for Bloomington officials, it does not change the fact that the 2020 census counted just 79,168 residents, compared to 80,405 ten years earlier.
Bloomington’s still relatively low figure in Thursday’s release of new estimates does not bear on the question of how accurate the 2020 census count was. That’s because the estimates start with a base that is calculated using 2020 census data as one of the components.
The city of Bloomington’s position is that the 2020 census missed a few thousand residents in Bloomington—because Indiana University student residents were told to return to their hometowns when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. That was just before April 1, 2022, which was the official census count day.
The city’s position is reflected in boilerplate language included in recent official communications, like the 2021 year-end budget goals report, which describes the city of Bloomington’s “85,000 residents.” The budget goals report was released in early May.
Responding to a B Square question about the 85,000 figure, Bloomington’s communication director Andrew Krebbs wrote in an email, “We still disagree with the published 2020 Census data and are waiting for that process with the Census Bureau to conclude.”
Krebbs added, “Until that time we plan to continue using the 85,000 number for consistency and it’s the best estimate we have.”
An appeal that could eventually be made by Bloomington, based on group quarters populations, could adjust the estimate base in future years—if the USCB determines a correction is warranted— but would not change the 2020 census count.
County population estimates were released at the end of March. Monroe County’s population was estimated to have grown by 157 people from the 2020 census count of 139,718. That means 139,875 is the latest estimate of Monroe County’s population, according to USCB.
Bloomington has hired the law firm of Dentons Bingham Greenebaum to look into various options that might be available for convincing the U.S. Census Bureau to adjust Bloomington’s actual census count. Dentons is the same firm the city used for its rate case last year, which was heard by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
Based on Bloomington’s online financial records, the city has paid Denton’s $40,000 since October 2021.
The actual census number could be adjusted through the USCB’s count question resolution (CQR) program.
Bloomington’s effort to get the USCB to adjust the 2020 census count does not yet appear to include a formal appeal under the bureau’s CQR program. That’s based on the cases that are listed on the USCB website as having been filed by May 20, 2022.
Bloomington would still have more than a year to file an appeal under the CQR program.
But the range of issues that can be addressed on a CQR appeal is limited to requesting a review of legal boundaries, a review of housing counts by 2020 census tabulation block, or a review of both. The deadline for filing an appeal under the CQR program is June 30, 2023.
A different kind of appeal program offered by the UCB is called the 2020 post-census group quarters review (PCGQR).
This year that’s proposed to be modified to allow for some additional consideration. The USCB invited public comment on its proposal for conducting the PCGQR. The city of Bloomington responded during the public comment period in support of the chance to get some numbers adjusted for group quarters tallies in the city.
The chance to ask for a review under the PCGQR starts in June 2022 and runs a year through June 2023.
But the kind of count adjustments that can be made as a result of a case filed under PCGQR are limited.
No changes to the official census 2020 counts will be made. Here’s how the USCB puts it: “The Census Bureau will not modify the 2020 Census apportionment counts and will not incorporate 2020 PCGQR corrections into the 2020 Census data summary files and tables or retabulate any of the other 2020 Census data products.”
If some kind of correction is warranted under the PCGQR, then a new count will be sent to the USCB’s population estimates program (PEP). And that new number will be included in the baseline data used to produce the annual population estimates—like those that were released last Thursday.
In last Thursday’s news release from the US Census Bureau, five Indiana cities got a mention.
Estimated to have dropped by 5,343 people since the 2020 census was Indianapolis. The USCB now pegs the population of Indiana’s capital at 882,039. That drop got a mention in the news release as part of the roundup of how the nation’s biggest 15 cities fared in this round of estimates. Indianapolis is the 15th largest city in the country.
The other four mentions of Hoosier cities were positive.
Joining the list of American cities that are estimated to have more than 50,000 people were Westfield, Indiana (50,630) and Jeffersonville, Indiana (50,315).
Joining the list of American cities that are estimated to have more than 100,000 people are Fishers, Indiana (101,171) and Carmel, Indiana (100,777).