Apparently the convergence of these three events has never happened before. The winter solstice has coincided with a total lunar eclipse at least once before in the past 2000 years, and those events coincided with a third, the release of 2010 census data, on Tuesday December 21, 2010. In astronomical terms, it’s a form of syzygy; in public policy terms, it’s the moment serious policy and political debates begin. Demographers and other analysts wait impatiently for the once-a-decade data release because it sets the stage for 10 years worth of analyses and forms the basis of Census sampling fra
Ever since we got our first glimpse of the Great Recession’s impact on metropolitan poverty with last year’s release of the 2008 American Community Survey (ACS), we suspected the 2009 ACS would contain even more dismal results. But when the data appeared last week, the rise in poverty, especially in certain metro areas, superseded even our pessimism. Over the first year of the recession, 16 of the 100 largest metro areas in the country saw a significant uptick in the share of people living below the federal poverty line ($21,954 for a family of four in 2009).
There’s been a lot of talk lately on the ins and outs of a new supplemental poverty measure being developed by the U.S. Census Bureau. As named, this new measure will not replace the official measure, but will supplement it by offering more information on people’s economic wellbeing. Nancy Folbre’s recent Economix post gives a good round up of why this new measure matters, but here’s the upshot.
By now you should have filled out and returned your 2010 Census questionnaire--72 percent of Americans did, matching the response rate from 2000. The other 48 million households are being counted now by door-to-door enumerators. Once the results of the 2010 census are tabulated, they will be used, as in the past, for two important purposes: congressional apportionment and federal spending allocation. But another, usually much-anticipated use of decennial census results will fall short this time around.
In Washington, it’s the season for many things—spring flowers, baseball, political speech (always in season), and House and Senate appropriations subcommittees delving into the minutiae of the president’s proposed $3.7 trillion budget for FY2011. Scattered among the nooks and crannies of this massive document are the plans for the multiple agencies in the nation’s decentralized statistical system.