Census Bureau Finds 3.2 Million More People in Salt Lake City?

Today the US Bureau of the Census released a fascinating report on metropolitan area population growth by radius from the corresponding city halls. The report provides summary tables indicating the metropolitan areas that had the greatest and least growth, for example, near the downtown areas.  I was surprised to find that Salt Lake City had done so well, having seen is population rise from 336,000 to 355,000 within a two mile radius of city hall (Table 3-7). That struck me as odd. A two mile radius encompasses an area of only 12.6 square miles, for a density of about 28,000 per square mile. Only the city San Francisco has densities that high over such a large area in the West. Moreover, all of the municipality of Salt Lake City is within two miles of city hall, and the 2010 census counted only 186,000 people in the entire  city of more nearly 110 square miles.

In reviewing the backup file, Worksheets "Pop2000", Pop2010", "Density2000" and "Density 2010"), I discovered that Salt Lake City's data was actually that of San Francisco and that metropolitan Salt Lake City was credited with 3.2 more people than it had Another surprise was that the San Francisco metropolitan area was reported with 260,000 people, less than one-third the population reported for the core city of San Francisco in 2010. Santa Fe had a reported population 3.4 million people, about 1.4 million people more than live in the entire state of which it is the capital. Further, in at least 35 cases, the populations for metropolitan areas did not correspond to those reported in the 2010 census.

Obviously this is the kind of automated (computer) error that can happen to anyone or any agency. Nonetheless, an immediate correction would be appropriate.

With considerable effort, we were able to get through to the public information office at the Bureau of the Census to notify them of the error.

Until a corrected report is issued, any analysis of the report will need to be very cautious indeed. We look forward to the revision.