Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Study Highlights Pittsburgh's Lack of Immigrants

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative has released a study stating that Philadelphia was under-counted in the 2000 census. Their goal? To direct more moneys to Philadelphia for the upcoming 2010 census count.
"The report finds that almost all of the cities studied have less money and fewer staffers for this Census than they did in 2000."
And the results of this study? Philadelphia was under-counted by 8,326 residents. Pittsburgh was over-counted by exactly 752 residents. They claim that certain groups are "hard-to-count" including low-income renters, immigrants, African Americans and Hispanics.

Additionally, there are groups of folks that they tend to over-count, typically non-
Hispanic whites with more than one residence.

From the PEW report:
After each Census, the Census Bureau conducts research to determine roughly what percentage of those groups it missed. Using that research, a noted Temple University statistician, Eugene P. Ericksen, found that the 2000 count likely missed an estimated 8,326 Philadelphians, or about 0.5 percent of the city’s population.
So what is the scientific evidence used in this study?

Eugene P. Ericksen, Temple University, at the request of the Philadelphia Research
Initiative calculated the ratio of under-counts/over-counts to true population to be -1.84
percent for non-Hispanic blacks, -3.17 percent for Hispanics and 1.09 percent for non-Hispanic whites. Eugene doesn't appear to actually account for those other "hard-to-count" groups including low-income residents and renters.

Philly 2008 statistics
Total Population: 1,447,395
44.8% Black
11.3% Hispanic
39.0% White non-Hispanic (versus 47.5% total White people)
Total under-count: 8,326 (-0.5%)

Pittsburgh 2008 statistics:
Total Population: 334,563
27.1% Black
1.3% Hispanic
67.6% White
Total over-count: 752 (0.2%)

In Pittsburgh, the census doesn't appear to track the number of non-Hispanic whites versus Hispanics that also identify as white. I assume it's a fairly negligible number.

As a state, then Pennsylvania 2008 statistics:
Total Population: 12,448,279
Black: 10.8% * -1.84% = -24,737
Hispanic: 4.8% * -3.17% = -18,941
White non-Hispanic: 81.4% * 1.09% = 110,448
Total over-count: 66,770 (0.5%)

To put these numbers in perspective, Pennsylvania would have been over-counted by 0.5%, more than twice as much as the city of Pittsburgh which is claimed to be over-counted by 0.2%. Any city with a majority of white residents and a vast minority of Hispanic residents, will show an over-count. Whether you believe our Hispanic residents are systematically under-counted and our white residents are systematically over-counted is a matter of debate. But what this study showcases yet again is our striking lack of Hispanic immigrants. Of the 239 cities in the United States with a population over 100,000 residents, Pittsburgh ranks 232nd in terms of its percentage of Hispanic immigrants. Pittsburgh is not a comparable city to Philadelphia in terms of population or demographics. In my opinion, Pittsburgh was included in their 11 cities list merely to pull more money in the state to Philadelphia. Why doesn't the highly reputable Pew Charitable Trust perform a study on the disparity of Hispanic immigrants to Pittsburgh?

So what is the justification for Pittsburgh's inclusion in the study?

From the PEW report:
The 10 cities examined for this report besides Philadelphia include the five with larger populations—Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix—
plus five chosen on the basis of their similarity to Philadelphia and their experience in dealing with the Census—Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh. No consideration was given to fiscal condition or population growth.
Philadelphia is the 6th largest city in the country. If they had chosen the top 10 in terms of population (actual peers of Philadelphia), would Philadelphia have been dead-last? San Antonio, ranked 7th in population, has a Hispanic population of 61%. Dallas, San Diego, and San Jose round out the top 10. It's pretty obvious why the trust left them out of the running. Why else is Pittsburgh included in this study but to make Philadelphia look better and affect state funding of census studies? I'm only surprised they didn't include Cincinnati in the list - a city which ties Pittsburgh with its meager Hispanic population yet has a higher overall population. My serious question to pose is: Why are immigrants skipping over cities like Pittsburgh (1.3% Hispanic) and Cincinnati (1.3%) in favor of fellow rust belt cities like Rochester (12.8%) and Buffalo (7.5%) and Cleveland (7.3%)?

*Note: The city over-count/under-count numbers are based on the 2000 census, whereas my state numbers are based on 2008 estimates. There are more Hispanic residents in Pennsylvania in 2008 than in 2000 which would result in an even higher over-count back in 2000, but those numbers are harder to parse.

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