Phoenix becomes largest US city to successfully challenge 2020 census numbers

May 30, 2023, 3:00 PM

Phoenix has become the largest U.S. city to successfully challenge its population count from the 2020 census after claiming that dozens of group homes, jails and drug and alcohol treatment centers were overlooked during the nation’s head count.

The U.S. Census Bureau told Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego last week that the statistical agency had approved its submission claiming that 3,550 people in 192 group quarter facilities were missed during the once-a-decade census. The facilities included drug and alcohol treatment centers, a memory care center for people with Alzheimer’s and a residential facility for juveniles needing mental health care.

The count of every U.S. resident determines political representation and how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed for transportation, health and other programs.

The additional figures will be included in future population estimates for Phoenix released each year until the next census in 2030, the bureau said in a letter to the mayor. The census determined that Phoenix was the fastest-growing big city in the U.S. between 2010 and 2020, increasing by 11.2% to 1.6 million residents and making it the fifth most populous U.S. city.

The successful challenge by Phoenix won’t change how many congressional seats Arizona got during the apportionment process, or the more detailed numbers used for redrawing political boundaries.

The Census Bureau has received more than 100 submissions challenging the numbers from cities, towns and villages of all sizes across the U.S., including Austin, Texas; Boston; Detroit; Memphis, Tennessee; and Milwaukee. State, tribal and local governments have until the end of June to file challenges.

While many of these cities aren’t getting the results they had hoped for, there have been some successes from challenges to totals of “group quarters” — dorms, jails and nursing homes — similar to the Phoenix case. Group quarters were among the most difficult to count in 2020 as campuses closed and prisons and nursing homes were locked down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Census Bureau created a separate program to handle these challenges.

Boston, a hub of higher education, believed the 2020 census missed more than 6,000 students living in university housing and 419 inmates at local jails. The Census Bureau approved its submission. Detroit also succeeded with a challenge that added 1,478 more people in 61 group quarters.


Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Mugshot of Bobby Roberts, who was arrested Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, in connection with a fatal shootin...

Arrest made in fatal afternoon shooting at Phoenix intersection

An arrest was made a week after an afternoon shooting left a man dead on a Phoenix street, authorities said Tuesday.

25 minutes ago

Sign for the 2023 Original Phoenix Greek Festival outside the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral...

Kevin Stone

Opa! 62nd annual Original Phoenix Greek Festival set for this weekend

Greece is the word this weekend when The Original Phoenix Greek Festival returns for its annual three-day run.

43 minutes ago

Mugshot of Eric Norwood, who is accused of killing a man in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday, Oct. 1, 20...

Suspect behind bars after fatal shooting in Phoenix over weekend

A suspect was taken into custody after a man was fatally shot in a Phoenix neighborhood over the weekend, authorities said.

2 hours ago

caution tape across fence...

Man dies after being shot at west Phoenix apartment complex

A man is dead after he was shot Monday night at a west Phoenix apartment complex, authorities said. 

3 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Mountain Vista Medical Center)...

Brandon Gray

Mountain Vista Medical Center, Jersey College partner to open nursing school in Mesa

Mountain Vista Medical Center and Jersey College partnered to establish a School of Nursing on the hospital's campus in Mesa, serving the East Valley. 

5 hours ago

Alfalfa farm...

Brandon Gray

Arizona terminates lease of Saudi-owned Fondomonte after investigation

Gov. Katie Hobbs announced Monday the state land department terminated one of Saudi-owned dairy company Fondomonte Arizona's four Butler Valley leases.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.


Mayo Clinic

Game on! Expert sports physicals focused on you

With tryouts quickly approaching, now is the time for parents to schedule physicals for their student-athlete. The Arizona Interscholastic Association requires that all student-athletes must have a physical exam completed before participating in team practices or competition.

Phoenix becomes largest US city to successfully challenge 2020 census numbers