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As 2010 Census forms arrive in more than 120 million mailboxes across the country this week, several 20-foot-high replicas of the form began touring the nation today. The U.S. Census Bureau's Giant 2010 Census Form Tour is part of a large-scale effort to encourage households to take 10 minutes to fill out and mail back their census forms.
The forms will be on display at popular public sites in a number of major cities this week, such as Times Square in New York, Union Station in Washington and Daley Plaza in Chicago. Other cities include Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix, St. Louis and San Francisco.
Asking just 10 questions and taking only about 10 minutes to complete, the 2010 Census form is one of the shortest in U.S. history. The displays will familiarize the public with the look and feel of the form and its 10 questions, increasing awareness and motivating mail participation.
In 2000, the nation reversed a three-decade decline in mail rates, achieving a participation rate of 72 percent. The Census Bureau is challenging the nation to "Take 10" minutes to improve upon that rate in 2010. When households don't return the form, census takers must go to the homes to get the answers to the questionnaires, driving up the cost of the census. If everyone across the nation mailed back their form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of taking the census by about $1.5 billion.
"I'd like nothing more than to return money to the taxpayers following this census because they mailed back the census forms at a record rate," said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. "In the end, the American public's willingness to participate in the 2010 Census will determine its success and how much money we're able to return to Congress."
The Giant 2010 Census Form Tour is part of the Census Bureau's multifaceted communications campaign designed to increase mail participation. The research-based strategy includes targeted advertising in 28 languages, partnership efforts, special events, public service announcements, Web-based tools and road tours throughout the country. The forms cost about $646,000 to produce and display in dozens of cities over the next few weeks. The communications efforts during the 2000 Census are widely credited for reversing the decline in mail participation, more than paying for itself. In 2010, the Census Bureau estimates that for every 1 percent increase in the mail back response, we will save approximately $85 million.
All census responses are confidential. Answers are protected by law and cannot be shared with anyone. The Census Bureau takes extreme measures to protect the identity of individuals and businesses. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' individually identifiable answers with anyone, including tribal housing authorities, other federal agencies and law enforcement entities.
The 2010 is using social media to reach out to hard to count populations, reminding everyone to return the census questionnaire this march. If you can't visit a big form in person, get in on the action at facebook.com/uscensusbureau for news and photos from each of the 13 locations across the country. Visit flickr.com/uscensusbureau for additional photos and follow us on Twitter @uscensusbureau for real time updates on the buzz generated on the ground in each city from the Big Form campaign.