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Contact: Nick Kimball
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today congratulated the nation for its strong participation in the 2010 Census to date, as the Census Bureau released the latest mail participation data showing that 72 percent of U.S. households have mailed back their 2010 Census forms so far -- the same rate the nation achieved at the end of the mail-back period during the 2000 Census.
"It's fantastic that we were able to match the 2000 participation rate despite all the predictions that it couldn't be done," Locke said. "Strong mail-back participation increases the likelihood of a successful census and saves taxpayer dollars. All United States residents should be proud of this achievement.
"As we move into the next phase of the 2010 Census, residents should be aware that Census workers will soon be in neighborhoods across the country to follow up with households that have not yet responded. We urge continued cooperation as we work to count every person in the country."
In the 2000 Census, the nation turned around a three-decade trend of declining mail-back rates. The country has become even more difficult to count in 2010. Over the last decade, participation in surveys of all kinds has been declining. The nation has grown by some 30 million people; it is more diverse, more residents are not native English speakers, more are facing economic dislocation from homes, more live in non-standard housing arrangements, and there are greater concerns regarding personal privacy.
"By this unexpectedly high participation rate, the nation has demonstrated its support of the 2010 Census," said Dr. Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau. "The response has saved taxpayer money by reducing the size of the door-to-door follow-up phase of the census."
The unprecedented partnership effort and engagement of local communities and elected officials played a significant role in overcoming these obstacles and achieving this milestone.
The Census Bureau is still tallying late mail returns and will announce the final mail-participation rate for the nation and all other state and local jurisdictions at a news conference on Wednesday, April 28.