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Yes, you may fill out your Census form before April 1 – in fact, Uncle Sam wants you to

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on March 29, 2010 at 11:04 am |
March 29, 2010 11:40 am

The Census form is very clear. Right there at the top, it asks how many people are living in your household on April 1.

So why, when April 1 is still three days away, are those folks at the Census pushing people to fill out their questionnaires and mail them back before Thursday?

A sharp-eyed News Tribune reader wants to know.

And while we’re on the subject, where are the Census forms for people in Eatonville – or other places – who have only P.O. boxes and no home mail delivery?

The short answers, according to local Census Bureau spokeswoman Cecilia Sorci, are:

• Yes, it’s OK to fill out your Census form and send it in now, even though the questionnaire uses an April 1 count date.

• Census forms are coming to rural residents who don’t get mail on their porch or at the street, but they’ll be hand-delivered and it may take some time. If you haven’t received your form, expect it within a few days.

Both questions were posed to The News Tribune reader representative by subscribers. Each asked that her name not be published.

“The form says the count is to be taken as of April 1,” one reader said. “What if you fill it out before then and there’s a change?”

The reader said she knew of some people would could die before April 1, and that would change the count.

April 1 is officially designated Census Day, the official reference point for the every-10-year snapshot of the U.S. Population, officials say.

But it’s not a hard-and-fast fill-out-the-form date, Sorci said. Forms went out earlier this month to 120 million American households.

“The reality is that most people’s households are quite stable and they know who will be in their homes come April 1,” she explained.

“But if you do anticipate that your household numbers will change by April 1, if someone’s gravely ill or if someone’s expecting a child or if you’re planning to move, then by all means, wait until April 1 to fill it out and send it back.”

Census officials are hoping you’ll complete the questionnaire and get in the mail before Thursday because it makes the count more efficient, Sorci said. It enables the bureau to track how many forms are being completed and then plan for dispatching an army of Census foot soldiers who will go door to door to get information from households that don’t mail it in.

If you live in one of those rural areas where you don’t get mail delivered to your home, the form won’t show up in your P.O. Box, Sorci said. They must get to addresses on file with the Census Bureau.

The questionnaire will be hand delivered in a white plastic bag with the Census Bureau logo on the outside, she said. You’ll be expected to fill it out and mail it back, just as if the Postal Service had delivered it.

There are about 2,500 such addresses in Pierce County, Sorci said, and Census workers are getting to each as quickly as they can.

So to the reader in Eatonville, she said, stay turned and keep watching your doorstep.

By law, the Census counts every man, woman and child in the nation. The Population Clock estimated that number to be 308,962,352 as of 10:30 PDT this morning.

The count is important because the federal government uses it to apportion Congressional seats and money to states based on population. Besides that, the Census provides vital data on who we are, how old we are and how we move around in the national melting pot.

And if you’re into numbers right now, those Population Clocks can be fascinating.
The World Clock Population Clock shows 6,811,526,326 people on the planet today.

And the U.S. Population Clock says this about us:

• One birth every 7 seconds
• One death every 11 seconds
• One international migrant every 37 seconds
• U.S. population grows by 1 person every 13 seconds (a net figure derived from the above)

As of this morning, the Census Bureau said 34 percent of households have participated in the count. The bureau keeps a running tally on its Take 10 Map page, and you can go here to see how your area stacks up in terms of questionnaires returned.

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