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U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves today released the initial 2010 Census mail participation rates for the nation, showing that 16 percent of households have mailed back their census forms so far. The announcement came a week after 120 million households received their 2010 Census forms in the mail.
“These first weeks are critical to the final census count,” Groves said. “It's absolutely vital that everyone takes the 10 minutes to fill out and mail back their forms. If every household mailed back its 2010 Census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of taking the census by $1.5 billion.”
Groves also announced a new mapping tool, developed in collaboration with Google, to track and map response rates. The new maps on the 2010 Census Web site allow anyone to track how well their area is responding to the once-a-decade count on a day-by-day basis. This same daily data is also available as a layer for Google Earth, both as a downloadable file to open in the application, as well as an easy-to-embed local rate tracker (widget) that can be embedded in any web site. More details are available at http://google-latlong.blogspot.com .
The new tools, part of the Census Bureau's “Take 10” program, are an effort to make data more visually accessible and searchable.
The emphasis on encouraging mail participation in the census is a practical one. For every percentage point increase in mail response, taxpayers will save an estimated $85 million in federal funds. Those funds would otherwise be required to send census takers to collect census responses in person from households that don't mail back the form. After the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau was able to return $305 million in savings to the federal Treasury because mail rates exceeded expectations — a move the Census Bureau would like to repeat in 2010.
“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,” Groves said. “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.”
— Take 10 Toolkit (English): http://2010.census.gov/partners/toolkits/toolkits-take10.php
—Take 10 Toolkit (Spanish): http://2010.census.gov/partners/materials/take10lang.php#spanish
—Take 10 Toolkit (Puerto Rico): http://2010.census.gov/partners/materials/take10lang.php#puertorico
Other features on the new map include the locations and hours of more than 30,000 Questionnaire Assistance Centers and 40,000 “Be Counted” sites throughout the country. Questionnaire Assistance Centers provide in-person information and language assistance. If you did not get a form delivered to you, you can fill out and mail back a form picked up at one of the Be Counted sites. “Be Counted” forms will be cross-checked against the census forms processing database to ensure that each household is only counted once. To find the centers, click on the “Find a Questionnaire Assistance Center” link from the map.
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 apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about what community services to provide. The 2010 Census form will be one of the shortest in U.S. history, consisting of 10 questions, taking about 10 minutes to complete. Strict confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide.