Erie Mayor Joe Schember must wait until next year to challenge the 2020 census, which dropped Erie to the fifth largest city in Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Census Bureau temporarily suspended the challenge program to complete the 2020 census count.

Any city hoping to challenge those numbers has to wait until January 2022.

The 2020 census found Erie's population dropped by 6,995 people, bringing the city's population to 94,831.

If those numbers stand, the city could lose out on federal funding that is available to cities with 100,000 or more people.

In January, Mayor Schember will be able to request an examination of the 2020 count.

If he's not satisfied with the review, the mayor can then determine if a full recount is warranted.

“We think there were thousands of people not counted in Erie, probably tens of thousands,” said Mayor Schember. “I know I talked with census workers who told me that when they went around, they knew people were in the house they were knocking on, but no one answered the door because of COVID-19, and so one census person told me the estimate was 20,000 people he missed in the City of Erie.”

The city challenged the census results back in 2015, and won.

Mayor Schember hopes the same thing will happen, this time around.

This story is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.