- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The District is having its largest increase in residents since 1950, according to revised U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

The agency has acknowledged underestimating the District’s population and has added more than 31,000 people, which brings the official count to 582,049.

The new number marks an end to decades of residents moving to the suburbs and distinguishes the District from other big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, where residents are leaving in search of cheaper homes and less congestion.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who has set a goal of attracting 100,000 new residents, said the revised number is another sign of the city’s economic renaissance.

“After a 56-year decline in population, we have finally turned the corner and begun the increase in the District’s population I have pushed for throughout my time as mayor,” said Mr. Williams, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election this fall. “This … will mean greater revenue from a number of federal programs, and it also represents an acknowledgment of what we have been saying all along: that the boom in residential development in the District represents a sizable increase in population.”

Census estimates are used to allocate funds in a number of programs, including Medicaid, social service block grants and foster care.

Mr. Williams decided in December to challenge the 2005 census estimate, which stated 550,521 persons were living in the District as of July 1, 2005.

That number represented a decrease of about 4,000 people from July 2004 and a decrease of more than 20,000 from the official 2000 count of 572,059.

The bureau releases annual population revisions between decennial censuses based on birth and death rates and migration trends.

But D.C. officials argued the revisions failed to capture an increase in housing construction, the conversion of vacant properties into occupied units and an influx of residents reflected in tax filings.

The revised number marks the most significant increase in the city’s population since it peaked in 1950, at 802,178.

The city recorded a decline in every ensuing census, though midcensus estimates during the late 1990s twice increased the population slightly, said Joy Phillips, associate director of the city’s State Data Center.

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