Census Bureau Challenges Local Communities to Work Hard to Improve Mail Participation Rates for 2010 Census
By Larry Jones
April 5, 2010
During the 2000 Census, 72 percent of American households completed and mailed back their census forms. As we approach the end of April, the deadline for returning the census forms, the U.S. Census Bureau is working tirelessly to improve the mail participation rate for the 2010 Census. Why is this important? Because for every one percent increase in the national mail participation rate, the Census Bureau can save taxpayers $85 million by not having to send census workers to follow up on non-response households.
The response rate is also important to state and local governments, as well as every person residing in local communities. Every ten years, information from the decennial census is used not only to determine how many seats in the House of Representatives each state will be allotted, but also how $400 billion in federal aid is distributed annually to local communities for education, housing, police protection, transportation, health care, human services and many other services.
To improve the national mail participation rate, the Census Bureau is conducting a nation-wide media campaign to encourage everyone to take part in the “Take 10” challenge, a campaign encouraging each household to take ten minutes to fill out ten simple questions and return the census form to the Census Bureau. Forms were mailed to 120 million households in mid-March and people were asked to return them by the end of April. Starting in May, census workers will fan out across the nation to start knocking on doors to get census information from households that do not respond.
The Census Bureau is working in partnership with local governments to help local communities boost their local mail response rates. To help communities, the Census Bureau has launched new interactive Google Maps showing initial mail back participation rates. The Census Bureau’s “Take 10” map includes the 2000 Census mail-back response rates as a benchmark, which local communities are encouraged to exceed. These maps show local communities broken down by census tracts and how households are responding by zip codes. This will let mayors and other community leaders know which areas have low responses so they can better focus on developing strategies to improve the response rates for households in those areas.
As of March 30, 46 percent of the American households had mailed back their 2010 census forms. The top five states with the highest national mail participation rates are South Dakota 58 percent, North Dakota 57 percent, Nebraska 57 percent, Wisconsin 54 percent, and Iowa 54 percent. To access the Census Bureau’s Take 10 map onine to see how well your city is responding, go to: 2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/ and follow the instructions.