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How Many People Live on Nantucket? Depends Whom You Ask

From the article:

Now you see ’em, now you don’t.

The population of Nantucket balloons to 46,000 or more each summer, but when part-time residents, seasonal workers and vacationers depart, the number drops to…what?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 11,229 permanent residents live on the island—a crescent off Massachusetts that’s home to some of the country’s wealthiest people—but a group of entrepreneurs believes the true number is 50% larger.

“We’re telling them they have 17,200 people living here,” said Alan Worden, a resident who founded Nantucket Data Platform to count and categorize the island’s people.

Like all areas of the country, Nantucket has a vested interest in a complete head count because $675 billion in federal funds is allocated based on population, and at the local level, plans for services are predicated on the number of people who will use them.

Mr. Worden suspects other areas of the country could benefit from NDP’s methodology, and in the coming months, he plans to promote it in Charleston, S.C., Sarasota, Fla., Jackson Hole, Wyo., and other places.

But state demographers aren’t convinced the Census Bureau’s estimates for Nantucket are as far off as NDP believes.

“It’s unlikely that there is a population undercount in technical census terms,” said Susan Strate, a demographer at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute who is also the state’s liaison to the Census Bureau. “I think it’s more a question of definition than accuracy.”

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