Making the Rust Belt count

Local elected officials in many Rust Belt communities, such as Toledo, Lorain, and Erie, have challenged population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

And this recent article from the Erie Times-News makes it clear: size matters.

“…data collected through the 2010 head count will directly affect how $3 trillion is allocated to local, state and tribal governments over the next 10 years. Those dollars, in turn, will shape decisions about how local communities fund public-health programs, transportation, education, senior services and more.

And when it comes to landing competitive funds, a city’s size is directly tied to its influence, Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott said.”

Population also matters for purposes of Congressional representation. And as this article goes on to explain, fewer people means fewer dollars. It can also matter greatly to a community’s sense of self.

“When Joyce Savocchio took office as Erie’s mayor in 1990, that year’s U.S. Census showed Erie’s population had dropped to 108,718, from 119,123 after the 1980 count.

The result, Savocchio said then, was that the city lost $1 million a year over the decade of the 1990s in federal Community Development Block Grant funds, money used to pave streets, repair sidewalks and improve neighborhood parks.

The 2000 count delivered more of a psychological blow: The population dipped again, to 103,717, and Erie lost its title of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city to Allentown.”

This is sure to be a hot topic as our nation gears up for the 2010 Census.

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