Ads by Google Ads by Google

Gov expresses concerns to U.S. Senators over local population count

2020 Census logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lemanu P.S Mauga has joined others in the territory with growing concerns over the drop in American Samoa’s 2020 Census population count, telling a U.S Congressional committee last week that the population count does not reflect the actual number of the territory’s residents today.

The US Census Bureau in late 2021 released the 2020 Census for American Samoa and it shows the population count in 2020 decreased by 10.5% from the 2010 census.

As of April 1, 2020, the territory’s population was counted at 49,710, down from the 2010 Census figure of 55,519.

In written testimony last week to the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the state of U.S territories, the governor pointed to the territory’s 2020 population count and other data that weren’t officially released until late 2021 and late 2022.

He said the “significant drop in our population count does not reflect the actual number of residents in American Samoa today.”

The governor pointed out that the Coronavirus pandemic led the Territory to close its borders from 2020 to 2022 and numerous American Samoa residents could not return home within the enumeration period.

“Accordingly, I humbly request an opportunity to recount or consider another population census method on a quinquennial basis for US Territories,” the governor said in the written testimony.

(Quinquennial — means occurring or being done every five years. And this is a process done every five years for the nation’s economic census, including the insular areas.)

As previously reported by Samoa News, the decrease in population impacts the federal grants’ formula — which is based on population.

The drop in 2020 population count had prompted concerns from some local leaders and others in the community who question how the population dropped below 55,000 and that there were expectations for the count to be higher since the American Samoa Commerce Department (ASDOC) mid-year 2020 estimate population — as of July 2020 was 57,637.

The 2021 mid-year estimate dropped down to 51,561 as of July 1, 2021. For the mid-year 2022 population count as of July 1, 2022, the ASDOC report says it’s estimated at 51,269.

Chief Statistician Meleisea Vai Filiga, who was also the Area Census manager during the last U.S. census count, had told Samoa News in late 2021 that before the closure of the 2020 census enumeration, the local government was given an opportunity to assess and review the count. And a local review committee was established to conduct this review. 

“The committee did not come up with any credible evidence to challenge the enumeration count due to the lack of better secondary administrative data,” Meleisea said at the time, responding to Samoa News inquiries as to whether there was an analysis conducted by ASDOC on the 2020 census data.

Secondary data sources including school enrollment, building permits and new housing units were utilized for comparative and trend analysis, he said. (See Samoa News edition Nov. 01, 2021 for details.)