U.S. Population May Have Climbed to as High as 312.7 Million, Census Says

The Census Bureau estimates the U.S. population is 305.7 million to 312.7 million, based on an analysis of data available before its official count was conducted.

The estimates were compiled from data as of April 1 and are not part of the overall 2010 count, the agency said today at a news conference in Washington. Still, the Census Bureau said the numbers represent possible growth trends of certain demographic groups. The 2010 census results will be released before Jan. 1 as required by law.

“The 2010 Census provides the official population count, but demographic analysis provides an honest presentation of alternative estimates,” Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau, said in a statement. These figures “make plausible assumptions,” he told reporters at a media briefing in Washington.

Today’s numbers, compiled separately from the official census, mark the first wave of data that offer a snapshot of the U.S. and its residents. The census will influence the allocation of about $4 trillion in federal funds during the next decade and will determine which states will gain or lose seats in the House of Representatives.

‘Wait and See’

“We will all wait and see” what the census numbers provide in the exact population count, Groves said at the press briefing.

Later this month -- and before the overall population count is announced -- the agency will publish findings from an annual survey sent to about 3 million U.S. households. The data will be an average from 2005 to 2009 and will offer estimates for topics including income, poverty, foreign-born population, commute time to work and housing costs. Those numbers will be released Dec. 14.

The U.S. population in 2000 was 281.4 million, and in 1990 it was 248.7 million, according to the Census Bureau. Today’s population projections, based on the high-range estimate of 312.7 million, mean that there was an 11.1 percent rate of growth during the past 10 years. That is slower than the 13.1 percent pace in the previous decade.

Gender, Race Estimates

Today’s report offered population estimates for categories such as gender, race and age. The analysis shows the number of males in the U.S. is as low as 151.9 million or as high as 155.5 million. For women, the range is from 153.7 million to 157.2 million.

The black population in the U.S. ranged from 40.9 million to 41.7 million, the Census Bureau said. The number of young Hispanics -- limited to residents under the age of 20 since not enough states began gathering detailed race information until 1990 -- ranged from 18.3 million to 21.3 million.

Figures released today did not include an estimate of the number of white residents. “The non-black population has become a lot more diverse,” Jason Devine, head of methodology research in the agency’s population division, said in an interview. He said census demographers for this report focused more on the changing Hispanic population.

The data measured the non-black population, which includes Hispanics and other races. That figure ranged from 264.8 million to 271 million.

The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to count the population every 10 years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Timothy R. Homan in Washington at thoman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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