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How’s the Process of Checking on Vacant And Deleted Addresses Going?

Tue Jul 27 2010
Robert Groves
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We began the initial operations for the penultimate operation to enumerate the US population about July 1. The “vacant/delete check,” in Census Bureau jargon, is small, relative to the full nonresponse followup operation, which visited 47 million addresses. We’re visiting about 8.5 million units in the operation.

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Although small, it’s crucial for a good census. There are three types of units we’re visiting.

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1. “Vacants” — Some of the 47 million housing units we visited over the past few weeks were documented as vacant on April 1, 2010. We want to make absolutely sure we’ve got that right. So we’re double-checking.

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2. “Deletes” — Others among the 47 million posed real problems for our census takers. We couldn’t find a physical housing unit associated with the address, or the address was judged to be a duplicate listing for another listing. In either case, our nonresponse followup workers documented the address listing as “delete.”

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3. “Supplementals” — We also are visiting about 3 million addresses that are additions to our list that came to us late. Local officials gave us some to check; the Postal Service gave us some new delivery addresses; and we checking on other sets to make sure we understand their household composition as of April 1, 2010. Many of these we expect might be occupied as of April 1, 2010.

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These three types of cases can disproportionately affect the quality of the enumeration. So treating them with extra care is the point of the vacant/delete operation.

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For those of the public who are receiving yet another visit to make sure we understand their situations, I ask for their patience. It’s because the stakes of the census are so high that we go to these lengths to make sure we have things right.

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The vacant/delete operation is moving along quite smoothly. Enumerators are completing their work on schedule and the computer systems are humming. We have completed already about 80% of the workload.

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So far, we’re finding about 52% of the units are vacant and 22% should be deleted from our list. That leaves about 26% as occupied units as of April 1, 2010. That 26% shows how important this step is to capture the right numbers for the April 1, 2010, population.

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