We are more than halfway through 2021 and the 2020 Census Data just came out. COVID made things a little difficult for all parties involved. Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau releases data gathered from people all over the country.
Maryland ranked ninth in the nation in self-response to the census for the latest data collection.
The data gathered is broken down nationally and by each state. In Maryland, the Department of Planning handles this. Robert McCord, the Secretary for the Department of Planing explained how the state data center's predictions were on par with the census bureau data released, only off by less than two percent. They were, however, surprised by the growth in Prince George's County. PG County grew by more than 103,000 people. Maryland as a whole had a population increase of more than 403,000.
"In any area of the state we can tell you how many people, what languages they speak, what their racial composition is, and what we need to do to best help," said McCord. "We're trying to figure out what areas are aging? What areas have lots of young people? What areas need transportation assistance? There's lots of things the federal government gives money for that they have to figure out. Does it make sense to give to an area? If there's a growing younger population or growing older populations? A very simple question of the age of the people is one of the really simple examples of of how you make good decisions on giving the funding out."
The census data is crucial to figure out how much federal funding a state can receive. It also helps with redistricting. Maryland has to reallocate prisoners to their last known address prior to incarceration before beginning the redistricting process. We're one of the first two states to ever require this by state law.
"We have to recognize that there are certain districts where prisoners are located in what's known as group quarters, and they're counted there by the Census Bureau, but by Maryland law, we have to reallocate them to where they came from before," McCord explained. "So where there's a prison facility in a county, that increases the population because people live in and sleep there. But for purposes of being represented, they're reallocated back to where they lived before they were sentenced to be in that particular location."
When it comes to the racial breakdown, less people identified as "white alone" this year compared to 2010. When we look at this identified as "black or African American only," there are less negatives, meaning more people identified with this race.
"The composition of the state has been changing and the population has become more diverse. We expected that," said McCord. "We really couldn't say exactly why but we do know that it was happening."
All of the information gathered and released is the "what". Now, they have to figure out the "where" and the "why".
"When people ask me, where do people go? You don't really know that yet. There will be more census data released within the next year. So when the American Community Survey comes out, that'll tell us where people may have gone and where people may have come from, but we just don't have that, that level of data just yet."