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Limit placed on raw census numbers

Figures apply only to redistricting and not federal funding

U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans says the Census Bureau's decision to release raw data instead of adjusted numbers for the 2000 population figures applies only to redistricting and may not affect funding decisions.

"There's been some confusion," he said during a press conference at the Utah State Capitol Thursday.

The bureau this week announced the release of Census figures for 11 states. Throughout March, it will release population numbers for each state, broken down by race and ethnicity.

Utah Democrats have argued that the decision to use unadjusted figures will cost Utah more than $2 million over the next decade. Democrats nationwide urged the bureau to recommend scientifically adjusted numbers from the 2000 Census count to compensate for a possible undercount. Minorities, children and the poor are the most likely to be missed by the decennial census, they argue.

But Evans, who oversees the Census Bureau, emphasized again on Thursday that he felt the 2000 count was "the most accurate census in the history of the land."

"Those in Utah . . . should be proud of their efforts," he said.

The Utah State Democratic Party office reports that nearly 40,000 Utahns were missed in the 2000 count, according to a news release. The release also states that Utah will lose funding due to this undercount in at least five federal programs, including adoption assistance, foster care, Medicaid, Social Security and substance abuse prevention and treatment.

Utah may not lose a dime, however. The decision to release raw numbers was for redistricting purposes only, Evans said, and not funding.

"That decision has yet to be made. We have to release (redistricting) data by April 1 by statute," he said.