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San Joaquin County, Calif., and the city of Fayetteville, N.C., and surrounding area - a nine-county region in North Carolina - have been selected by the U.S. Census Bureau to serve in 2008 as the dress rehearsal sites for the 2010 Census.
The dress rehearsal also will bring more than 4,000 temporary jobs and provide residents of the test areas an opportunity to participate in an event that will help the Census Bureau produce more accurate counts of the people and housing units in their community and across the nation in 2010.
"Our goal for the 2010 Census is to provide up-to-date information," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. "This information helps communities to get money for needed roads, schools, hospitals and more; upgrade services in child care, health, education and recreation; plan effectively for the future and enhance overall quality of life."
The dress rehearsal in 2008 will help the Census Bureau ensure a more accurate and cost-effective 2010 Census by demonstrating the methods to be used in the nation’s decennial headcount.
The main goal of the dress rehearsal is to fine-tune the various operations planned for the decennial census in 2010 under as close to census-like conditions as possible. Many aspects of the 2010 Census design, including the use of hand-held computers, have been tested nationally or in selected local areas over the past four years.
San Joaquin County, just south of Sacramento, was selected because it presented an urban location with a multilingual population and an assortment of group quarters housing such as hospitals, college residence halls, nursing homes, prisons and facilities for the homeless.
The Fayetteville area site was selected for the dress rehearsal because it is a mix of both urban, suburban and rural areas and has two military bases (Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base). The following nine counties in North Carolina are part of the selected site: Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond and Scotland.
Sites in the dress rehearsal provide a comprehensive environment for demonstrating and refining planned 2010 Census operations and activities such as the use of GPS-equipped hand-held computers and mailing replacement questionnaires.
"This is an opportunity for the Census Bureau to conduct an operational test of the overall design of the 2010 Census. While we have tested certain parts of the plan, the dress rehearsal is our first opportunity to see how well all of the pieces fit together," said Kincannon.
He added that all housing units would receive a census short form that takes about 10 minutes to complete.
The 2010 Census will be a short-form-only census. The nationwide implementation of the American Community Survey in 2005 replaced the need for a long-form questionnaire in 2010.