WASHINGTON -- Scientists and state lawmakers eagerly awaited the next wave of population figures from the 2000 census -- detailed "head count" numbers to be used to remap political district boundaries.
Governors and lawmakers are waiting for the figures for mainly political reasons -- the data will be used to congressional, state and legislative political districts.
Only the actual "head count" will be released to states after Commerce Secretary Don Evans agreed Tuesday with a Census Bureau recommendation that those numbers were more accurate than adjusted figures that supporters said could protect against an estimated net undercount of 3.3 million people.
Evans called the 2000 census the "most accurate in the country's history." His department oversees the Census Bureau.
Among other things, demographers and analysts said the data would offer new proof that the fast-growing Hispanic population nearly equaled blacks as the nation's largest minority group.
Virginia and New Jersey were the first two states expected to get numbers. The Census Bureau was scheduled to send the detailed population files to the respective governors and state legislative leaders in the two states on Wednesday. The files will be released to the public once those officials notify the Census Bureau they have received it.
Supporters of statistical adjusting were not surprised by Evans' decision, but nevertheless urged him to back adjustment anyway as a way to protect against an undercount of primarily minorities.
"I weighed their recommendation, evaluated their report ... and I concluded that the recommendation of the Census Bureau professionals was correct and prudent," Evans, a longtime friend and supporter of President Bush, told a news conference.
Data for nine other states was scheduled to be sent to officials there on Thursday or Friday, bureau spokeswoman Laverne Collins said. The states are Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.
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