You took 10 minutes. Or less. You filled out your U.S. Census questionnaire and mailed it back.
Or many of you did, anyway.
Census Bureau officials in Washington are heralding calculations showing 72 percent of forms in the state have been returned – a figure equaling the 2000 mail-in total.
That’s cause for celebration, Puget Sound-area Census spokeswoman Cecilia Sorci says, because it means fewer Census takers must visit homes and apartments to collect the information in person as the nation takes its every-10-years count of noses across the country.
Not everyone agrees. Many readers have called and written The News Tribune, complaining they didn’t get their form, and when they attempted to seek one using toll-free Census telephone numbers, they found themselves trapped in voice-prompt purgatory. Many said they never did get a live body. Several called the newspaper asking if it could supply the forms so they could complete their civic duty.
Wanna know how your area is doing? Here are some local participation rates released by the Census Bureau Tuesday.
Auburn: 70 percent
Federal Way: 68 percent
Kent: 68 percent
Olympia: 74 percent
Sea-Tac: 64 percent
Tacoma: 70 percent
And, by county:
King: 73 percent
Kitsap: 75 percent
Mason: 64 percent
Pierce: 72 peercent
Thurston: 74 percent
The Census, mandated by the Constitution, is important because where people live -and in what numbers – determine how some $400 billion in federal aid is apportioned each year. The numbers also govern how many of the 435 members of the U.S. House Representatives are elected from each state.
Washington, for example, could possibly earn a 10th seat in the House because of its growing population, estimated now at around 6.6 million of the nation’s 310 million residents.
The Census Bureau is spending some $14 billion to make the count.
Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, as Secretary of Commerce, heads the agency in charge of the Census. So in a sense, he’s the Head Counter.
Census officials say they’ll continue to track incoming forms until the beginning of May, and they still encourage stragglers to fill them out and mail them in.
If you don’t do so, you can expect an in-person visit from a Census taker.
But it’s an expensive proposition. It costs about $57 dollars for every household visited by an enumerator. That adds up to $85 million for every 1 percentage point of households that don’t mail in their questionnaires, Sorci said. The government mailed out some 144 million of them in March.
Here’s a copy of the Seattle-area Census Bureau news release: