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Arizona census numbers fail to meet expectations: How much will it cost the state?

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Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 22:59:54-04

PHOENIX — The failure to gain a tenth congressional seat may be the least of Arizona’s concerns involving the 2020 census data.

RELATED: Why? Arizona fails to add seat in U.S. House after 2020 census

As it did 10 years ago, the U.S. Census Bureau overestimated Arizona’s population. This time by 3.5 percent. That is one of the largest discrepancies in the nation. Most experts believe these people exist, but because they weren’t counted, there may be a real price to pay.

How much money a state receives in federal dollars for things from infrastructure and broadband to school lunches relies on a formula based on population. See how Arizona compares to other states in the breakdown below.

“Maricopa County had the second highest undercount in 2020 in the country when 27,000 kids under 5 were not counted,” Congressman Ruben Gallego (D) Arizona District 7 said.

Gallego tried authored legislation to extend the census count but it failed. He says despite adding nearly 760,000 new residents since 2010, Arizona will lose billions of dollars because people are not counted.

“What I think happened, Arizona did grow and we did grow faster than the rest of the country. What we had was a messed up census,” Gallego said. “The Trump administration actually started the census late and ended it early in the middle of a pandemic. And then politicized it by trying to find out if you were documented or not.”

In September, Governor Doug Ducey made a last-minute push with two weeks to go, to get people to fill out the census form. On Tuesday, AZ Census 2020 put out a series of tweets congratulating itself for reaching 99.9% of households.

“At this moment, there is no way to know definitively through the numbers if there is a Hispanic or Native American undercount,” said ABC15 data analyst Garrett Archer. “We will have to wait to tell if that happens.”

Those numbers may not be available for a few months.

Watching closely will be city governments; they also receive federal dollars based on their population.

An undercount among Hispanic residents could end up impacting how much money will be available to assist those communities for years come.