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BUREAU SAYS IT MISSED MORE THAN 5 MILLION PEOPLE IN '90 CENSUS

The Census Bureau is giving cities their first look at the agency's idea of how well it counted people last year. Some officials don't like what they see.

"That's hard to believe," exclaimed Barbara Kapan, executive director of the Philadelphia Planning Commission, when told the bureau thought it missed only 20,000 people in the nation's fifth largest city. "There were a lot of problems in Philadelphia."The Census Bureau said Thursday its enumerators overlooked more than 5 million people during the 1990 Census. Their count was less accurate in large cities.

The corrections raise the nation's population to 254 million. If the corrections are adopted, states would have to redraw congressional and legislative boundaries based on the new totals, rather than those announced in December.

But the government hasn't yet decided if it will accept the revisions or stick by the original census count of 248.7 million Americans. Since the first census was taken in 1790, the government has chosen the original count over any later revision.

The revised national tally is 2.1 percent larger than the original count. The revision found the count was off by about 5 percent in Baltimore, meaning about 36,000 people were missed; Dallas, 51,100 people; and Houston, 85,400. It was off around 4 percent in San Diego, or about 45,400 people; and San Jose, Calif., 32,700 people; 3 percent in New York, 229,400; and Phoenix, 30 600; and 2.6 percent in Chicago, for about 73,200 people missed.

Salt Lake City's count was revised upward from 159,936 to 163,000.

Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher is under a federal court order to decide by July 15 whether to use the original count or incorporate the proposed corrections.

The numbers announced Thursday were the end result of the agency's efforts to determine how good a job it did in counting Americans last year.