Tuesday, September 22, 2020

U.S. Census Forms Arrive in the Mail

More than 120 million U.S. census forms will begin arriving in mailboxes around the country this week. This decade population count will be used to determine congressional districts and allocate more than $400 billion in federal aid.

Census Bureau director Robert Groves kicked off the national mail-in campaign in Phoenix on Monday, urging cities and states to promote the census and improve participation rates. A reported only 72 percent of U.S. households returned their forms during the last census.  Arizona is a state that could gain up to two Congressional seats because of population growth fueled by immigration.

Groves explained that real-time census data showed public awareness of the 2010 count had improved since January to levels similar to 2000’s census count. Groves called that “good news.”

The Census Bureau predicts that two-thirds of U.S. households will mail in the form.  The decrease may be due to growing U.S. apathy towards surveys, residents displaced by a high number of foreclosures, and immigrants who have become more distrustful of government workers amid a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Starting in May until July, the Census Bureau will send census-takers to each home that doesn’t reply by mail. Failure to respond to the census carries a fine of up to $5,000, although that law is rarely enforced.

In 2000, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina each had below-average mail participation rates of less than 70 percent. All of these states have seen higher rates of foreclosures and rapid growth of minorities, who are often more reluctant to turn in their forms. Each of these states could potentially gain at least one U.S. House seat, with Texas possibly picking up as many as four.

This year for the first time the Census Bureau is mailing out bilingual English-Spanish census forms to 13 million households. Census forms are also available by request in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian, and assistance guides are available in 59 languages at http://www.2010census.gov.

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