Participation rate for local census among best in U.S.Mitchell’s participation rate for the 2000 census exceeded the rates for South Dakota and the nation, and a local official is hoping local residents repeat the feat this year.
By: Seth Tupper, The Daily Republic
Mitchell’s participation rate for the 2000 census exceeded the rates for South Dakota and the nation, and a local official is hoping local residents repeat the feat this year.
Seventy-eight percent of Mitchell households mailed their form back to the Census Bureau in 2000, compared to 77 percent across South Dakota and 72 percent nationwide.
Neil Putnam, the city planner for the city of Mitchell, is working with census officials to keep local participation rates high. He said local residents will begin receiving their questionnaires in the mail sometime around March 15.
“When you receive the questionnaire, we’re asking you to fill it out and send it back,” Putnam said. “You’ll be good to go for another 10 years.”
Higher mail participation rates decrease the number of paid census takers who have to be sent out to conduct surveys in person. According to the Census Bureau, the federal government saves about $85 million for every percentage point increase in the national mail response rate.
Higher participation can also aid accuracy. Putnam said accuracy is important, because census data is used to redraw boundaries for political entities such as city wards and county and legislative districts. Census data is also used to determine the allocation of $400 billion in federal funding per year for entities such as hospitals and schools.
Census officials say the forms have only 10 questions apiece and should take only 10 minutes to fill out. The answers are kept confidential.
A sample census questionnaire can be viewed online at http://2010.census.gov. Starting March 22, visitors to that Web site will be able to use an interactive map to track how well their communities are participating in the census on a daily basis.
The Census Bureau is required to give its raw population counts to the president by Dec. 31. Data will be released to states in March 2011.