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That's the census at your door

by Brian Walker
| April 28, 2010 9:00 PM

It could be called 2010 Census: The Sequel.

Starting Saturday, Census workers will visit households that didn't mail back the 10-question questionnaire earlier.

"This is the last attempt to gain everyone's cooperation and get the count correct," said Jan McStay, assistant regional Census manager.

Enumerators will visit homes up to three times if no one is home before leaving a card with toll-free number to call to submit information (866-872-6868). They'll also call three times, if necessary.

The operation is expected to run to mid-July.

"If people believe they were missed, they can call the number any time or in late July (if no one has come to their home)," McStay said.

As a last resort, if some households are still unaccounted for at the end of the process, the Census will attempt to get what information it can from neighbors to have as accurate a count as possible.

During home visits, Census workers will have a Department of Commerce badge and will not enter the home. They may also have a bag with a Census Bureau logo. If asked, he or she will provide supervisor contact information and/or the local Census office phone number for verification.

They will ask questions and fill out the form for the residents. The visit will take about 10 minutes.

McStay said it would be better to wait for a visit from a Census worker at this point rather than mailing back the form. She said workers will be visiting homes unaccounted for regardless from now on.

Kootenai County had a 76 percent return rate during the mail-back period, better than the national average of 72 percent (an updated final number will be released today). Benewah County was at 64 percent.

The questionnaire asks questions such as the names and ages of the people in the household, race and if they own or rent the home. Census workers will not ask for citizenship status, Social Security numbers, credit card or banking information.

"You give more information to you local car dealer than the Census Bureau," McStay said.

McStay said there will always be some uncooperative people, but workers will try to reach people who have "No Trespassing" signs with caution.

A St. Maries man was cited for firing his shotgun near a Census worker who was trying to deliver the man his questionnaire in March.

McStay said between $1,200 to $1,400 per person per year comes back to the community for purposes such as roads, schools, hospitals, vocational training, elderly and Head Start programs through federal revenue sharing programs such as community block grants. More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually.

"It also ensures Idaho has its fair share of representation in Congress," she said adding that data determines political boundaries.

The count is due to President Obama by Dec. 31. Geographic information will be released starting March 2011.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census takes place every 10 years.

Information: www.2010census.gov

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