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The U.S. Census Bureau has begun printing 2010 Census questionnaires as the agency continues preparations for next year's count of the U.S. population. The new questionnaire, which every residential address will receive, is designed to be one of the shortest since the first census in 1790, asking just 10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete.
"Our goal is to count everyone living in the United States once, only once, and in the right place," said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. "Making that happen begins with the 2010 Census questionnaire, a powerful tool that provides critical data that will guide representation in Congress and the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds to state, local and tribal governments every year."
Beginning in mid-March 2010, more than 120 million questionnaires will be delivered to U.S. residential addresses. To meet the goal, the Census Bureau will print more than 1.5 million documents every day.
For the first time, more than 13 million questionnaires will be bilingual (English - Spanish). The move is based on tests showing that targeting the bilingual questionnaires toward areas with high concentrations of Spanish-only speakers will improve response rates. Questionnaires are also available on request in Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. Language guides, which provide instructions on how to complete the questionnaire, are available in nearly 60 languages.
"The Census Bureau has gone to great lengths to make the printing process as efficient and eco-friendly as possible," Groves said. "The printing of 2010 Census questionnaires uses 30 percent less ink than 10 years ago and will be printed on 30 percent recycled paper."
Another critical factor in the success of the census is the quality of the address list used for delivering the questionnaires next March. This spring, Census Bureau workers walked every street in the nation to match actual residential addresses on the ground with those provided in lists from the U.S. Postal Service and local governments.
The 140,000 workers who verified addresses operated out of 151 local census offices in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. In the fall, an additional 344 local census offices will open.
The Census Bureau will hire approximately 1.4 million people to conduct the 2010 Census, including following up with households that do not return their questionnaire.
"The 2010 Census is easy, important and safe," Groves said. "The Census Bureau is ready to undertake this massive domestic operation and looks forward to everyone's participation in the national count."
The 2010 Census is a count of everyone living in the United States and is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Census data are used to distribute congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide. The 2010 Census questionnaire will be one of the shortest and simplest to complete in history. Strict laws protect the confidentiality of respondents and the information they provide.