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U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves today congratulated those communities that are making history by helping to boost the mail participation rates across the nation, including the state of Kentucky, which matched its census mail participation rate from the 2000 Census on Monday, April 12. A number of cities have also just reached this milestone, including Baltimore; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Minneapolis; Olathe, Kan.; Charleston, S.C.; and Surprise, Ariz.
The announcement comes with just four days remaining before the Census Bureau must shift away from accepting forms by mail and start preparing to send more than 600,000 census takers door to door to count households that failed to mail their forms back.
“I'd like to congratulate the residents of Kentucky as well as the counties and cities that completed and mailed back their census forms,” Groves said. “Greater participation means a more complete and accurate count as well as fewer households that we'll need to visit in person beginning in May. I also encourage them to keep it going. Every increase in response can help us save money on the expensive follow-up to nonresponding households.”
Since the first forms were delivered in March, the Census Bureau has urged all communities to take on the challenge of exceeding their mail participation rates from the 2000 Census. An interactive online map and a customizable Web “widget” have given communities the ability to track their own progress toward winning the “Take 10 Challenge,” named after the 10 minutes or less required to fill out the form.
Nationwide, 66 percent of households have mailed back their census forms heading into the last week. The Take 10 Challenge for the nation is to exceed the mail participation rate of 72 percent achieved a decade ago — when America reversed a three-decade decline in mail participation.
Kentucky joins North Carolina and South Carolina (which both met their 2000 Census rates last week and are currently at 68 and 67 percent, respectively), as states that have met or surpassed their Census 2000 rates. To date, 52 counties nationwide have also met this milestone as well as five cities with populations over 50,000.
The latest rates for all states, counties, places, towns and townships can be found on the Take 10 Challenge Map (http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/).
Households should mail back their forms by Friday, April 16, to help assure that they are not included in the in-person follow-up phase of the census that starts in May. Census takers will be knocking on doors to obtain responses from every household that didn't mail back its form in time.
The Census Bureau saves about $85 million in operational costs for every percentage point increase in the nation's participation rate by mail. If every household completed and mailed back their census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of taking the census and save $1.5 billion. In 2000, the nation reversed a three-decade decline in mail response rates and saved $305 million.
If you did not receive a Census form or cannot locate it, you can pick up a form at a Questionnaire Assistance Center or Be Counted site near you, which can be found at: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/ You can also provide your census responses over the phone after April 12 to the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center (English: 1-866-872-6868; Chinese: 1-866-935-2010; Korean: 1-866-955-2010; Russian: 1-866-965-2010; Spanish: 1-866-928-2010; Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010; TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired): 1-866-783-2010).
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 is 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.