I was excited yesterday to see the Census Bureau release a whole bunch of numbers for California. I am particularly excited about looking at how Oakland has changed neighborhood by neighborhood, but those figures are going to take a while to go through.
But the large scale numbers are interesting too, so let’s take a look at those today.
Most of you have probably already seen that unlike most California cities, Oakland’s population went down. The chart below shows the 20 largest cities in California with their 2000 and 2010 population counts, along with how much they changed.
We also got race data in yesterday’s release. The chart below shows how Oakland’s 2010 population breaks down by race.
Compared with 2000, Oakland has fewer African American residents, and more white and Asian residents. The Latino population also increased. The chart below shows how each category changed since the last Census.
This one isn’t really related to Oakland, but the Census Bureau provided this little map showing how California’s counties have changed over the past few decades, and I thought it was nifty enough to be worth sharing.
Is Oakland undercounted?
So. While yesterday was an exciting day for data geeks, it was not such a great day for Oakland. Just like that, the official Census estimate of Oakland’s population dropped nearly 20,000 people, from 409,189 to 390,724. Ouch.
The notion that Oakland is shrinking was especially surprising considering the California State Department of Finance’s estimates, which showed Oakland at over 430,000 people as of January 2010 (PDF). Not that the State can’t be wrong (I’ve been thinking the last two years seemed on the high side). But 40,000 people is a big error.
I have heard some people already that Oakland was obviously undercounted and should challenge the figure. Yeah, odds are Oakland is undercounted. That’s a safe bet to make without even seeing any numbers — after all, Oakland is full of exactly the populations that are notoriously hard to count.
We certainly wouldn’t be the only city to challenge. After all, a low count can deprive the City of millions of dollars in federal funding. I know Houston has already said they intend to challenge their count.