Monday, March 29, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday: 2010 Census Participation Rates

As many people have recently discovered, the United States Census Bureau is currently working to complete its decennial, Constitutional obligation of a complete population count. To get an even higher response than in previous years, the U.S. Census Bureau has streamlined their questionnaire, increased awareness, and made the whole process generally more bearable. Starting in mid-March, the simple “10 questions in 10 minutes” census questionnaires were mailed out to every household in the United States and Puerto Rico. Almost immediately the responses started rolling in.

To keep the general public interested and updated as to the status of their hometown, state, or the country as a whole, the U.S. Census Bureau created a fun online map depicting the “Mail Participation rate” or the percentage of homes that received questionnaires and mailed back responses. As of this posting, participation rates are generally in the mid-20’s to low 30’s, with several states actually reaching as high as the low 40’s.  Houston, however, is falling behind. With the national average at 34%, the city is more than 10 percentage points behind, with a participation rate of 21% and Harris County is doing only slightly better with participation at 23%. This is a great improvement from last week’s numbers, which, as reported in a Houston Chronicle article, had Houston 20% behind the national participation average.

With just one week to go (forms are due on April 1), hopefully Houston and the rest of the country will turn in their forms. The U.S. Census Bureau actually estimates that if every household in the country returns their forms it will save the government $1.5 billion dollars.  Everyone should do his or her part to provide accurate and timely responses, which will not only save the government money, but also help determine how and where the government spends its more than $400 billion annual budget. For more information on the 2010 Census visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s homepage.