Monday, January 4, 2010

Who Knows the Population of Florence?

Today's TimesDaily featured Mayor Bobby Irons' answer to critics of his new Media Czar. In his statement, prominently featured in the Opinion Section, Irons mentioned the not-so-burgeoning population of Florence as approaching 38,000. Is it?

Also released today were several predictions by Federal Census mavens:

Alabama's population will be undercounted in the 2010 census, says Annette Jones Watters, manager of the Alabama State Data Center at The University of Alabama. "So what, you ask?" Watters says. "It means millions of lost dollars in federal domestic assistance for our state over the coming decade." And if past experience means anything, some of the most unresponsive will be people who don't own their own homes, college students, people of minority races, high school dropouts, people living in poverty, and people whose first language is not English, Watters predicts. And those are often the people who need the federal assistance most.

According to University of North Alabama officials, their foreign student enrollment is now at approximately 10%, or 780. Most of these students obviously do not consider the United States their home and will be wary of including themselves in census data. Adding the other groups mentioned by U.S. Census officials, there would seem to be a great possibility of a substantial under count, not just in Florence, but in all Shoals cities.

In 2000, the town of Russellville admitted its census numbers fell far short. The population of Florence at that time was 36,364--a mere .9% growth from the 1990 census. Has the city of Florence fared that much better under the Irons' administration?

FYI to the TimesDaily Editorial Board: The "naughties" have not yet officially ended; the next decade will not commence until January 1, 2011. Then again, as regular critic John Crowder would second, the TD does aspire for the lowest common denominator in its reading audience.