Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Census Mail-Backs Are Lagging

Are the right-wing nutjobs like Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) actually having an effect on the 2010 census? They have been telling a lot of lies about what the census will be used for. Or are the American people just lazier and procrastinate more than people did 10 years ago?

Something strange is happening, because the return of census forms is far behind where it was at this point 10 years ago. Nationally, only 46% of the census forms that were mailed out have been returned, compared with 72% have been returned nationally by this time in 2000. Here in Texas, only 39% of the forms have been mailed back, compared to 68% in 2000.

So far, there are only eleven states that have mailed in more than 50% of the forms sent out, and all of these states are still far behind the returns they had in 2000. All other states have less than 50% compliance. Here are the eleven states with more than 50% compliance and their percentages:

Idaho 53%
Montana 52%
North Dakota 57%
South Dakota 58%
Nebraska 57%
Kansas 52%
Minnesota 51%
Iowa 54%
Wisconsin 54%
Pennsylvania 53%
Virginia 51%

Here in the Amarillo area, the numbers are not very good either. Potter county has returned 43% of their census forms, and Randall county has returned 52%. Here are how some of the other large Texas counties are doing:

Lubbock 35%
El Paso 45%
Ector (Odessa) 43%
Midland 44%
Webb (Laredo) 26%
Nueces (Corpus Christi) 38%
Bexar (San Antonio) 38%
Travis (Austin) 34%
Galveston 38%
Harris (Houston) 35%
Fort Bend 41%
Walker (Huntsville) 34%
Bell (Temple) 37%
Bowie (Texarkana) 47%
Wichita 56%
Denton 43%
Collin (Plano) 45%
Tarrant (Ft. Worth) 45%
Dallas 39%
Taylor (Abilene) 50%
Williamson (Georgetown) 39%
Cameron (Harlingen) 26%
McLennan (Waco) 40%

These are terrible numbers. Almost none of them are within 20% of where Texas was in 2000. Texas is set to gain possibly 3 congressional seats if the census goes as expected, but if we have an undercount one or more of those seats could be lost. That means Texas would have less of a voice in the national government than it should have.

In fact, I am surprised by the low compliance rate nationwide. What is wrong with Americans in 2010? Do they not want their fair share of federal dollars? Do they not care whether they have the proper representation in Washington?

Let me be clear about a few things. The census information cannot be used by any other government agency -- not the IRS, not immigration, not Homeland Security, etc. The information given out is very broad-based. NO individual information is released to anyone. Therefore, there is no way the census can be used against any individual by the government (and the 10 questions they ask don't involve any sensitive information anyway).

And it is against the law to refuse to give census information. I doubt that anyone will actually be arrested for this, but it is still important for the government to know how many people are in this country and where they live. If large numbers of people refuse to cooperate, then it will just force the federal government to use mathematical formulas and other guesswork.

Come on, people. This is not political. Send in your census form. Today!


  1. I can't say that I would have a problem with Texas having less representation than it statistically deserves. It has certainly earned it.

    Maybe some disgruntled postal workers are destroying them as part of an anti-government plot.

    That being said, I'm pretty sure I sent mine in.

  2. Mine is already in too.

    I know you're probably joking about the postal worker, but sadly in these weird times, it may not be too far from the truth.

  3. I haven't received mine yet. I work part-time as a federal "field representative." (Not for the Census)I wish our agency had the money to spend to educate the public about what we do that the Census Bureau has. Then again, I'm afraid people don't care after they've had an all-prime-time diet of certain cable tv networks.


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