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Census Bureau Director Robert Groves noted today that some areas are lagging behind the rest of the country in mailing back their 2010 Census forms. With Census Day on April 1, Chicago still has one of the lowest rates of mail participation. Nationally, 50 percent of households have mailed back their forms so far. But in Chicago, the mail participation rate is significantly lower, at 36 percent.
“We're concerned about the relatively low response from Chicago,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “Every household that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your form by mail.”
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.
“The 2010 Census is easy, important and safe,” Groves said. “It's only 10 questions and should only take about 10 minutes to complete.”
In 2000, 58 percent of Chicago households returned their census form by mail. The national rate in 2000 was 72 percent.
The Census Bureau is urging communities nationwide to take charge of their census mail participation rates. Anyone can visit the 2010 Census Web site to see how well their state, county or neighborhood is participating in the census. From the same interactive rate map, anyone can also embed a Participation Rate Tracker “widget” on their Web site that will display an area's latest participation rates.
To find and embed a state-wide rate: