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Folks go missing in census survey

If you believe the latest survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, Evanston’s population has declined dramatically over the past five years.

The new report, which excludes people living in group quarters such as college dormitories, says Evanston had 62,258 household residents in 2005, compared to a household population of 67,275 in 2000. That’s a drop of 7.5 percent.

The survey contradicts a population estimate for Evanston the bureau issued earlier this summer that showed Evanston with 75,236 residents last year in both households and group quarters, an increase of about 1,000 over the past five years.

The 2000 census reported Evanston had a total population of 74,239, including 6,964 people living in group quarters.

Evanston Community Development Director James Wolinski said he’d have to question the accuracy of the new survey.

“We’ve put in 2,000 new condo units in Evanston since 2000,” Mr. Wolinski said.

The census bureau’s new American Community Survey is intended to replace use of the long-form questionnaire on the decennial census that asked more detailed question of one in every ten households.

It’s designed to provide data updated every year that until now was only available once a decade.

To conduct the study, the bureau surveys about 250,000 addresses nationwide each month, or 2.5 percent of the household population a year, so the survey should have reached nearly 1,700 households in Evanston.

The bureau concedes that, like all surveys, the study is subject to sampling and other errors. It says there is a 90 percent chance that the true population of Evanston should be within a range of 4,787 people more or less than the estimate. But even at the high end of that range Evanston would show a slight population loss.

For what it’s worth, here are some other data tidbits from from the new survey:

  • Evanstonians are more educated now — 67 percent of residents over 25 years of age are college graduates versus 62 percent five years ago. Only 27 percent of all American adults have that much education.
  • The average household size in Evanston has barely budged — 2.28 persons in 2005 versus 2.27 in 2000. That’s smaller than the national average of 2.6 people per household.
  • Fewer Evanstonians are disabled now — 10.1 percent versus 13.2 percent. Nearly 15 percent of all Americans are disabled.
  • More Evanstonians are foreign born — 16.9 percent versus 15.4 percent. The national average is 12.4 percent.
  • 6.1 percent of Evanstonians are Hispanic, the same as in 2000. That’s lower than the national average of 14.5 percent Hispanic ethnicity.
  • 19.5 percent of Evanstonians who identify themselves as being of only one race say they’re black, compared to 22.5 percent in 2000. That’s higher than the national average of 12.1 percent.
  • 66.3 percent of Evanstonians say they are white, compared to 65.2 percent in 2000. The national average is 75.1 percent.

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