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Ding-dong: It could be the Census taker at your door

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on April 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm with 1 Comment »
April 30, 2010 5:19 pm

If you didn’t mail back your 2010 U.S. Census form, you might soon hear the ringing of your doorbell or a knocking at your door.

An army of Census footsoldiers will be deployed beginning Saturday to count the so-far-uncounted in the decennial Census.

About 11,000 Census takers will work in Washington as part of a nationwide force 635,000.

About 72 percent of the 144 million U.S. households returned their Census forms by mail or in person. The return rate is 74 percent in Washington.

Here’s the return rate for several South Sound counties:

• King: 74 percent

• Kitsap: 77 percent

• Pierce: 73 percent

• Thurston: 76 percent

Their enumerators’ mission, according to area Census spokeswoman Cecilia Sorci, is simple: Get to households that didn’t return Census questionnaires and count the people therein.

Officially, it’s called the Non-Response Follow-Up operation.

“We ask that you cooperate with census takers should they contact you,” regional Census director Ralph Lee said in a news release. “It’s easy, important and safe,” he added. “Information collected by Census takers cannot be shared with any other government agency; they’ve taken a lifetime oath to not share any data.”

For the most part, the Census takers will knock on doors in afternoons and evenings, Sorci’s press release said.

Here are ways to verify that they’re legitimate:

• He or she must present an ID badge with a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The Census taker also must have a black canvas bag with the Census Bureau logo.

• If you ask, the Census taker will give you contact information for a supervisor or local Census office.

• You will be asked only questions that appear on the 2010 Census form.

• You won’t be asked for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card information.

The Census is important, government officials say, because the distribution of some $400 billion in federal aid each year is based on population numbers and specific community needs.

The Census also helps determine how many members each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, which now has nine of 435 seats, could possibly earn a 10th due to population growth.

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