Heard Around Town

New York was worried about an undercount in the census. Turns out, there was an overcount.

Former NYC Census 2020 Director said: “It was absolutely a success. We clearly got everyone counted!”

Former NYC census director Julie Menin.

Former NYC census director Julie Menin. Ron Adar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

After all the fears and complaints of undercounting New York’s population in the census, and then the gnashing of teeth after New York ended up 89 people short of holding onto its 27th congressional seat, the wonks at the U.S. Census Bureau announced Thursday that, actually, the Empire State’s population was overcounted by 3.44%.

The bureau released a report analyzing its own work in the 2020 count. And to former NYC Census 2020 Director Julie Menin, it just proved once again the city did a damn good job. “It was absolutely a success. We clearly got everyone counted!” the current City Council member told City & State. “We did a herculean effort with hundreds of events. … We came out basically No. 1 among all major cities.”

Experts credited the city’s response, amid fears that divestment and decisions by the Trump administration would result in an undercount. The city did outreach and identified every possible housing unit, while insiders said the state government did too little, too late. “We lit a fire under people that there was going to an undercount. We were so worried,” Menin said. “And there wasn’t.”

Confused about how this could happen? Even experts like New York Law School’s Jeff Wice want to learn more. He noted that the bureau underreported the state’s population going into 2020, but identified that the state lost population in the year since. “The numbers don’t all add up,” Wice said. “And the numbers aren’t provided yet below the state level so we don’t know what’s going on between the lines.”

The Census Bureau’s report won’t do anything to change New York’s number of House seats or its federal budget allocation – it’s mainly meant as a way to improve future census counts. But one thing this could mean? As much as New York boosters may not want to admit it, the state may not have deserved that 27th congressional seat anyway.