The 2010 census missed more than 1.5 million minorities after struggling to count black Americans, Hispanics, renters and young men, but was mostly accurate, the government said Tuesday.
The Census Bureau released an extensive assessment of its high-stakes, once-a-decade headcount of the U.S. population.
The findings show the 2010 census over-counted the total U.S. population by 36,000 people, or 0.01 percent, due mostly to duplicate counts of affluent whites owning multiple homes. That is an improvement from a census over-count of 0.5 percent in 2000.
The census missed about 2.1 percent of black Americans and 1.5 percent of Hispanics, together accounting for 1.5 million people. The percentages are statistically comparable to 2000, despite an aggressive advertising and minority outreach effort in 2010 that pushed total census costs to an unprecedented $15 billion.
Also undercounted were about 5 percent of American Indians living on reservations and nearly 2 percent of minorities who marked themselves as "some other race."
"While the overall coverage of the census was exemplary, the traditional hard-to-count groups, like renters, were counted less well," Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. "Because ethnic and racial minorities disproportionately live in hard-to-count circumstances, they too were undercounted relative to the majority population."
The South, led by the District of Columbia, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, was more likely to have people who were missed. The Midwest and Northeast as a whole posted small over-counts.
The findings come after more than 100 cities, including New York, challenged the official 2010 results as too low.
The Census Bureau, which recently rejected New York's request to revise the city's count, says the latest analysis will not affect the government's official U.S. population tally of 308.7 million, but it will be used to improve the 2020 count. Nor will the analysis affect how the federal government distributes more than $400 billion to states for roads, schools and social programs.
Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and chairman of the Census Bureau's 2010 Census Advisory Committee, said:
"We remain deeply troubled by the persistent and disproportionate undercount of our most vulnerable citizens -- people of color, very young children and low-income Americans.
"At a minimum, the census should have the ability to make an adjustment in the official count to ensure that these individuals enjoy the political representation and fiscal resources to which they are entitled."
The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that federal law barred the use of sample surveys to adjust census results for purposes of allocating House seats; it left the door open to adjustments for other uses such as congressional redistricting or distribution of federal funds.
Shortly after taking office in mid-2009, Groves ruled out statistical adjustments in 2010 for redistricting, citing a lack of preparation time.