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Riverton census figure was wrong

Oct 2, 2012 - By Steve Peck, Publisher

Riverton's 2010 population was bigger than reported initially by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Ahead of its first estimate of the populations of Wyoming cities, towns and unincorporated areas since the decennial census, the Census Bureau recalculated population of Riverton before proceeding with the new estimates.

The official 2010 figure was 10,615, and the revised figure is 10,749.

That figure now will be used by the Census Bureau as the basis for all future population estimates and calculations of growth or shrinkage until the 2020 census.

Boundary change

The Census Bureau has an appeals process in place for cities in which officials believe there has been an undercount, but that does not appear to be the reason for Riverton's change.

Dr. Wenlin Liu, senior economist with the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division, which assists the U.S. Census Bureau with census data in Wyoming, said the discrepancy most likely is the result of a boundary change to the Riverton city limits that was not detected when the official census count was being conducted.

Riverton annexed the Spencer Subdivision, commonly called "Spencerville," in the months leading up to the census, and it might not have been recognized by the bureau until after the count had been made.

"Any time that a population estimate base is different" from the decennial census count, Liu said, "it can be the result of a boundary change that is taken into account later."

The difference of 134 from the 2010 census to the new "estimate base" is somewhat smaller than the estimated Spencerville population of 200 at the time of annexation, but Liu said it isn't immediately clear whether that was the specific reason for the re-estimate.

No change in county

The 2010 population for Fremont County was not adjusted in the new estimate base, further evidence that the difference in the Riverton count is because of an allocation adjustment rather than a counting error.

Despite the official upward revision, the 10,615 apparently will continue to be listed in official publications as Riverton's 2010 population, and the population signs at the north, west and south entrances to the city will not be changed.

Three other towns

Such revisions were rare across the state. The Census Bureau recognizes 99 incorporated cities and towns in the state, and only three others saw official revisions of their 2010 populations.

The largest of the three was Jackson, which originally was certified at 9,577 but now will be considered to have had an actual count of 9,595. Ranchester, in Sheridan County, saw its population adjusted from 855 to 857 for future purposes, and Rolling Hills was revised downward from 440 to 435.

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