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The Kickoff For The Second Half

Mon May 03 2010
Robert Groves
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On Friday I accompanied a nonresponse followup census worker in El Segundo, California. She had just completed her training and conducted the very first interview of her 2010 Census experience.

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Over my career I have myself been survey interviewer at times and have observed hundreds of interviews. The job is a tough one – knocking on the front door of houses that you may never have visited before. Not knowing exactly what to expect. Is anyone home? Are there dogs in the house? Will I be greeted with a smile or hostility?

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The best interviewers find this an opportunity to both fulfill the duties of the census and interact with residents of the area. Those who approach the doors with the anticipation of meeting interesting new people usually do better at getting the cooperating of the households. Many studies show that interviewers with such positive attitudes are more successful.

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Like all surveys, the census has instructed interviewers to provide instructions about the confidentiality provisions of the request and with detailed explanation about why we take a census.

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In the few households I observed it’s clear that not all were aware of the census and its purposes. Despite all the advertising, they didn’t know that the 2010 Census was being done.

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Some had just moved into the apartments and were living elsewhere on April 1. Our job now is to make sure that they’re counted once and only once and in their April 1 residential location. Then we have to contact the landlord to learn who was living at the unit on April 1.

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We had a very successful first half of the census. Saturday was the kickoff for the second half – that we will end only when we have counted everyone in the country. We have a ways to go and now and it’s in multiple hands – our 600,000 enumerators and the 48 million households they will visit.

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