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Slightly more than 72 percent of U.S. households believed to be occupied mailed back their 2010 Census forms, the same rate that was achieved in 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. In the fall of 2010, the Census Bureau will release a final “mail return rate” after census workers double-check the occupancy status of all households that didn't return a census form.
“This is a significant achievement; the nation has stepped up to the challenge of participating in this once-a-decade civic event,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “We knew the job would be more difficult in 2010 than in 2000, yet the nation responded tremendously.”
America responded despite trends over the past decade toward declining survey participation, a more diverse population, a difficult economic environment and a growing distrust of government.
To motivate increased mail participation, the Census Bureau challenged communities nationwide to work to improve the participation rates they achieved in the 2000 Census. Twenty-eight states met or exceeded their 2000 Census rates, and 11 more were within one point of matching their rates (see separate news release). Numerous cities and counties also matched or exceeded their rates. (See the “Take 10 Challenge Map” for detailed results, or results from the largest cities and counties on the news conference press kit page: http://2010.census.gov/news/press-kits/operational-press-briefing/april-28-2010.html.).
States with the highest mail participation rates include: Wisconsin (81 percent), Minnesota (80 percent), Iowa (78 percent) and Indiana (78 percent). North Carolina and South Carolina achieved the greatest percentage point increase among all states, both increasing by 9 percentage points (North Carolina jumped from 66 to 74 percent; South Carolina from 65 to 73 percent).
Cities with populations of 50,000 or more with the highest rates were Livonia, Mich. (87 percent), Rochester, Minn. (82 percent) and Sterling Heights, Mich. (82 percent). Charleston, S.C., achieved the greatest point increase (jumping 9 percentage points from 64 to 73 percent). Three cities increased by 8 percentage points: Minneapolis (from 68 to 76 percent); Miramar, Fla. (from 65 to 73 percent) and Surprise, Ariz. (from 63 to 71 percent).
The rates for all states, counties, cities, towns and neighborhoods are on the Census Bureau's interactive mail participation rate map at <http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/>.
The nation's response helps pave the way for the next phase of the 2010 Census: the deployment of 635,000 census takers across the country who will go door to door to obtain census responses from all remaining households. The temporary census workers are in training this week and will begin obtaining census responses this weekend. The Census Bureau is urging households to open their doors to their local census taker and will provide more information on this operation at a news briefing May 3.
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.