Question marks

This sounds almost like the start of a bad joke:  What do Detroit and La Paz County have in common?

Unfortunately, there’s no punchline. The fact is both entities are not happy with the U.S. Census figures which show they had major declines in population between 2010 and 2020.

In the case of Detroit, it means the decline that began sometime in the 1950s continues to this day. They went from 713,777 in 2010 to 639,111 in 2020, which isn’t as bad as the 25 percent decline they saw from 2000 to 2010. Of course, the city’s population in 1950 was 1.84 million. This means Detroit has lost almost two-thirds of its population in the last 70 years.

Mayor Mike Duggan and U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, have vowed to challenge the census results.

In the meantime, would the last person moving out of Detroit please turn out the lights? Thank you.

In La Paz County, the results make even less sense. According to the Census Bureau, the county went from 20,489 residents in 2010 to 16,557 residents in 2020.

You will be forgiven if you see this and say, “Huh?”

County Supervisor Duce Minor responded to the figures by saying, “That’s ludicrous!”

Once the shock wears off, the county supervisors should hold a work session to discuss how to challenge the county’s census results. It just doesn’t feel right to claim the county lost 20 percent of its population in 10 years. Consider all the economic activity in the county, including the arrival of Rose Acre Farms and companies like Environmental Waste Solutions. A claimed drop of 20 percent in the population just doesn’t make any sense.

Granted, there is a shortage of housing in the county, but that can’t explain such a dramatic decrease in the population.

It would not be surprising if the county was seriously undercounted. It would also not be surprising if many other rural areas were undercounted.

If the current census figures for the county stand, it’s going to play havoc on the county obtaining funding for services and government programs. Most of this funding is based on figures from the census. It’s already bad enough that the county has to provide services for people who aren’t here for much of the year and are not included in the census figures. It’s going to be even worse if the county was undercounted and funding is cut because of the low census figures.

This is yet another challenge for the County Supervisors and the department heads. They’re already dealing with trying to stabilize the county’s finances, and now they have to deal with what appears to be a serious undercounting of the county’s population in the U.S. Census.

We don’t want to be like Detroit. Following the 2010 census, the city declared bankruptcy in 2013. While the city finally got its finances in order, that’s the sort of financial trauma no one wants to go through.

The Board of Supervisors must challenge the results of the 2020 U.S. Census. To claim La Paz County lost 20 percent of its population doesn’t make any sense. If the figures aren’t challenged, it would mean severe losses in funding to county, which would mean a severe loss in services.

The Census Bureau has a process by which the results for a given area can be challenged. The County Supervisors should take advantage of that process.

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