The U.S. Census has opened offices on St. Croix and St. Thomas, as well as in each of the U.S. insular territories, in anticipation of the upcoming 2020 Census, Assistant Interior Secretary Doug Domenech said.
“We believe that Census’ close work with each of the territories will ensure accurate and timely results for our fellow Americans in the territories. I look forward to robust results and encourage all to be counted in the upcoming 2020 Census,” Domenech said.
“The Census Bureau is committed to a high quality census in the island areas. The successful opening of the five island areas census offices demonstrates our commitment to ensure that the census is accurate, timely and meaningful for the island areas,” said Jennifer Kim, assistant division chief at the Census Bureau, overseeing the 2020 island areas censuses.
The USVI’s population is likely to be lower now than it was 10 years ago, due to economic downturn, the closure of Hovensa refinery in 2012 and twin hurricanes in 2017.
As of April 2010 the total population of the territory was 106,405, according to the Census. That was almost a two percent decline from the 2000 census count of 108,612.
In that 2000 census, St. Croix’s population showed the largest change, decreasing two percent to 50,601 down from 53,234. Within St. Croix, Frederiksted decreased from 3,767 to 3,091 – a whopping 17.9 percent drop. The north central census subdistrict, encompassing Calquhoun, Glynn and points north to the seashore, declined 13.6 percent from 5,760 to 4,977.
St. Thomas actually increased by a hair less than one percent, from 51,181 to 51,634. Water Island, the north side, eastern and western parts of St. Thomas all saw growth, while Tutu and Charlotte Amalie saw declines.
St. John decreased by 27 residents, from 4,197 in 2000 to 4,170 as of April 2010.
While there will not be an accurate count until the census is complete, some measures suggest a sharp drop is likely. For instance, public school enrollment has dropped by a third over that time. For 2018-2019, enrollment was 10,718 students; down 150 from the year before. Enrollment was 13,194 in 2016-2017. In the 2010-2011 school year, V.I. public school enrollment was 15,747. V.I. schools have seen a 32 percent, 5,029 student, decrease in enrollment since the last census.
The U.S. Constitution mandates the government take an accurate “enumeration” of the country’s population every ten years. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution directs that census be done by “counting the whole number of persons in each State … excluding Indians not taxed.”
In states, it helps apportion representation in Congress. In states and territories it also plays a role in the allocation of federal resources.
The geographic scope of the decennial census is specified in Title 13 U.S.C., Section 191 as covering the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and “as may be determined by the Secretary, such other possessions and areas over which the United States exercises jurisdiction, control or sovereignty.” Operating under the latter authority of the Secretary, Census included an office in American Samoa.
According to the Interior Department, Census has worked closely with each of the territory governments to finalize the content of the questions and to provide the maximum public utility with minimum individual burden. The 2020 Census subjects were submitted to Congress in March 2017 and the 2020 Census questions were submitted to Congress in March 2018 with correspondences sent to the Congressional delegates of each territory. A question about citizenship was proposed by Republicans and was initially put into the census questionnaire by the administration of President Donald Trump. A federal appellate court shot down the question for the primary census earlier this year but the question will be on a small subset of specialized questionnaires, for statistical use only.
The Census will start outreach to encourage participation in each territory early next year. Their website is here.
The V.I. offices are:
St. Croix (Census Advisor: Tomas Encarnacion)
Plot No. 35 & 35A Castle Coakley
Building No. 1, 2nd Floor East
Christiansted, USVI, 00820
St. Thomas (Census Advisor: Daniel Doyle)
8666 Lindberg Bay, 2nd Floor
St. Thomas, USVI, 00802