And We’re Off: Early Census 2010 State Stories

Four states received Census 2010 P.L. 94 redistricting data last Thursday, and just like that Census reporting season was off and running. Our newsroom quickly tackled stories on trends in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia and posted an interactive state/county map on our Census page that we’ll keep updating.

I thought it would be fun, at least as time allows, to chronicle here some of the Census work from other newsrooms that catches my eye. So, here are a few stories and visualizations from week 1:

Stories

Given the geography-specific nature of the data, most stories focused on states or cities. Several examined post-Katrina New Orleans, using Census data to measure the effect of the hurricane on demographics:

The Washington Post pointed to the political effect of the city losing 29% of its population between 2000 and 2010:

The city will also probably lose a voice in Washington: Louisiana will end up with six congressional seats instead of seven because of the lost population, and state legislators are expected to eliminate one of the city’s three congressional districts.

The Times-Picayune reported that the broader New Orleans’ regional population drop was less, down 11% in the seven-parish metro area. Its story, as did others, pointed out that New Orleans after the hurricane was more white and Hispanic than before:

Black residents comprised 60 percent of city residents last year, compared with 67 percent in 2000, the data show. Meanwhile, the proportion of white residents grew from 28 percent to 33 percent. The city’s proportion of Hispanic residents, who can be black or white, inched upward, from 3 percent in 2000 to 5.2 percent last year.

Elsewhere in Louisiana, The News-Star in Monroe said the mayor is planning to challenge Census data because his city’s population drop below 50,000 could mean a loss of federal funding:

“We are not going to panic,” [Jamie] Mayo said. “We are going to see what the process is, and we will pursue it. We are not pleased about going below 50,000. Our whole objective is to grow our city. To me, the ideal size would be 60,000 to 65,000.”

Also from my Gannett colleagues: In Mississippi, The Clarion-Ledger wrote about accelerated white flight from Jackson. In Virginia, The News-Leader in Staunton covered the aging population in the central Shenandoah Valley. In New Jersey, the state bureau covered how the population shift to the south could pose an issue for Democrats, and The Daily Record in Morristown covered a rise of vacant homes in the state to near 10%.

Finally, stepping back, The New York Times wrote about a continuation of the long-term trend toward an increasingly diverse America. Examining the data in the first four states, it noted a sharp drop in white youths and called it “a shift that demographers say creates a culture gap with far-reaching political and social consequences.”

Visualizations

I know how hard this work is, so hats off to all the developers and data journalists out there working on interactives.

— Our Juan Thomassie did a really nice front end to the Census storehouse that Paul Overberg and I built.

The Washington Post’s interactive map of Virginia lets readers zoom down to the block group level for population growth and race/ethnicity counts.

The New York Times has a detailed map of population changes in New Orleans.

I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but the Super Bowl is calling. Add more in the comments. And remember: up to five states coming out this week — Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland and Vermont.

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