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County population up slightly, graying

Officials gearing up for census gathering, coming in the spring

As the Census Bureau gears up for its decennial survey this year, a new report puts Maui County’s 2018 population at 165,281 — a less than 1 percent increase over the previous year.

The report also showed an aging Maui County with the median age rising nearly a year from 40 years old in 2014 to 41.1 years in 2018. The percentage of residents 65 and older grew to 17 percent of the population in 2018, compared to 14 percent in 2014.

The 2014-2018 American Community Survey, released in mid-December, is the most “reliable and precise” of the period surveys, which also includes 1- and 3-year estimates, the Census Bureau said.

The release of the survey comes amid a campaign to encourage state residents to fill out their 2020 census forms — with Maui County logging the lowest county response rate in 2010 at 51 percent (Honolulu had the highest rate at 75 percent), according to a state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism report. Census tracts in Honokahua, Wailea, West Molokai, Hana, Maalaea and South Kihei had the lowest response rates, in the 30 to 39 percent range.

The goal for the 2020 census is to increase the response rate by 23 percentage points for Maui County, the state report said.

A Census Bureau public service announcement campaign, featuring NFL quarterback Marcus Mariota, legendary songwriter and performer Henry Kapono and others, has begun in Hawaii. There also will be a kickoff rally at the state Capitol on Jan. 14 featuring entertainment and lunch for people who pledge to fill out their census forms when they arrive in the mail in March, said Craig Gima, communications director for AARP Hawai’i, a strong supporter of census gathering.

AARP is particularly concerned about the counting of older people because of a “big change” with paper census forms only going to one in four households; older people may not get the paper form they are familiar with, Gima said.

The Census Bureau is encouraging people to fill out the form online or by phone to save the government money. In Hawaii, residents in areas that are historically undercounted, have high populations of older residents and/or have low internet connectivity will get a paper form along with a mailing asking them to fill out the census survey, he said.

But about 75 percent of homes will not get a paper form. To find out whether a household will receive a paper form or an internet response letter, go to gis-portal.data.census.gov/arcgis/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ef5c37c68a64ef3b2f1b17eb9287427 or to Page 10 of files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/census/census_2020/2019-11-19_presentation.pdf.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every decade. Census data are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed annually for public services like hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and emergency response, a Census news release said.

The census is important to Hawaii because for every 1 percent of people who are undercounted, Hawaii loses $37 million per year in population-related federal funding, state officials said. That means less money for schools, roads, health care and housing, Gima said.

The data also are used by private businesses for market research, Gima said. A complete count on the census may help companies decide if they want to open a business in Hawaii and where their business will be located.

The Census Bureau also is looking for about 1,000 temporary workers, which may be difficult to find in Hawaii with low unemployment rates. Gima said the pay is $20 an hour and includes office support as well as census takers.

Most jobs start in April and run for several weeks. Hours are flexible, and most jobs are in the evenings and on weekends, he said.

People work out of their homes and employment includes mileage reimbursement, Census officials said. Interested people can apply online at 2020census.gov/jobs or by calling (855) 562-2020.

According to the 2014-2018 American Community Survey, Maui County’s resident population increased 4 percent — from 158,814 in 2014 to 165,281 in 2018.

There are more elderly and fewer younger people in the county, the survey showed. The percentage of people age 25 to 34 decreased from 13.4 percent of the county population in 2014 to 12.9 percent in 2018. The age 45 to 54 group also decreased from 14.8 percent in 2014 to 13.6 percent in 2018.

Meanwhile the 65 to 75 age group grew from 8.2 percent to 10.4 percent and the 75 to 84 bracket from 3.6 to 4.3 percent of the county population from 2014 to 2018.

The survey also showed more woman, 50.1 percent, in 2018, a shift from the 2014 survey, when there were more men, 50.2 percent.

The complete 2014-2018 American Community Survey can be found at data.census.gov/cedsci/.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

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