Did ‘Hipsters’ Ruin the New York City Census?


A few months ago it was reported that New York City’s (already low) 50 percent return rate on census forms was brought down by “the hipster enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn,” where only 30 percent filled out the forms that help make important funding decisions. “These young, recent graduates with ironic mustaches and plaid shirts are apparently too busy tweeting to fill out a simple census form,” said NPR. This week, the issue came up again in a City Council committee hearing called to figure out just why NYC’s numbers seemed so off: “Hipsters,” said one woman.

Councilwoman Diana Reyna guessed that these young people “only want to be counted in their home state,” City Limits reports. Plus, it wouldn’t be “cool” to fill out the census, she said.

That’s probably only a small part of the problem. Other issues could include “reluctant” doormen, “illegal subdivisions of housing” and a flat-out refusal by residents to participate, but blaming an amorphous group of young people is less likely to spark outrage than, say, calling out a race or even any other neighborhood.

Plus, “hipster” makes for a better newspaper headline. Metro screams today: “Blame the hipsters if city loses out on $2B.” Only in smaller print does it clarifying that the issues exist “among others,” too.