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Springfield population takes big jump following city appeal and U.S. Census Bureau re-calculation

Springfield’s population increased as a result of an appeal filed by the city of Springfield earlier this year and a re-calculation by the U.S. Census Bureau. The city’s population was adjusted upward by the census bureau to 155,521 from just above 150,000.

“We are very excited about the census report,” said John D. Judge, the city’s chief development officer. “It’s great news for the city. This is a great launch pad as we look at the 2010 census to make sure everyone is counted.”

This new higher population figure was reassuring to a city that had earlier voiced concern when the 2008 population in Springfield was estimated at 150,640. The city’s allocation of state and federal funds could be reduced in some areas if the population were to fall below 150,000, city officials said.

The increase in the census number by nearly 5,000 was accomplished by the Census Bureau receiving updated information from the city including building permit statistics, and updated figures from other sources such as the number of college students living in Springfield, officials said.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno joined in praising the outcome.

“Having a population above 150,000 residents will allow greater funding opportunities for the city of Springfield and will continue to give us necessary legislative representation in Washington and Boston,” Sarno said.

Besides the allocation of financial resources to the City, the new population figures could impact the number of congressional districts in the State because population is a critical factor in congressional redistricting. Massachusetts is in danger of losing one of its 10 congressional districts after next year’s census as its population growth has lagged compared to national growth.

The Donahue Institute of the University of Massachusetts assisted with the city’s appeal. The 155,521 census number “shows that we are not only holding our own, but also inching up,” Judge said. The corrected population estimate is great to see, said Molly Jackson-Watts, manager of the regional information and policy center for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Most state, federal and foundation grants use the census bureau population estimates as one of the criteria to determine eligibility, Jackson-Watts said.

“Making sure that all the people in the city are counted is incredibly important to make sure the city is receiving the resources necessary to provide services to all the people who live here,” she said.

The planning commission is working with some local leaders in the region to try to make sure that communities are prepared to get a correct count in 2010 census, Jackson-Watts said. Residents need to know how important it is to fill out the census survey, she said.

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