As of late May, the 2010 census is in its final phase, according to the Census 2010 Hotline. While the work isn't finished, and there's been no official word on the matter, it looks as though the census is a success. That's because there was a 72% mail participation rate, the percentage of forms mailed back by people who got them.
This is a new measurement tool for the Census Bureau. It's being used for the 2010 census because of the increase in vacant housing in recent years. This method doesn't count forms that were mailed out to homes, but returned by the post office as "undeliverable." Census takers will visit those homes to make sure they're vacant and no one gets missed in the count, though.
Other work continues, too. In addition to visiting "vacant" homes, over 600,000 census takers hit the streets starting May 1. They're going door-to-door to count people who didn't respond to the mailer or didn't get one. If a census taker knocks on your door, open up and answer the questions. The door-to-door effort is scheduled to run until August 13.
The Census Bureau is also calling people who mailed back the form. You may get a call if there was something unclear about the answers you wrote down. Callbacks will run to about August 13, too.
As a side note, beware of the people coming into your home. One woman recognized a sex offender who had taken a census job. She politely gave the requested information and when he left reported him to the police. Don't take matters into your own hands.
I'm not a number! Well, technically, you are. We all are, or at least every 10 years we are. That's because the US census is taken every 10 years. And, as in the past, the 2010 census raises questions about its necessity and impact on certain groups of people.
Article I, section 2 of the US Constitution requires an "enumeration" or counting of all people living in the US. It also requires this headcount to be taken every 10 years. So, there's been a census every 10 years since 1790. The 2010 census will be the 23rd in US history.
The census counts everyone in the US, regardless of immigration or citizenship status. So, in theory at least, even persons in the US illegally are supposed to be included in the headcount. And, it's against federal law to refuse to answer the census questionnaire or give false information. Also, the information you provide on the census form is confidential. If any employee of the US Census Bureau (Bureau) discloses your information to anyone, he faces a fine and prison term.
Unlike in years past, the 2010 census is very short. It's made up of 10 questions, and according to the Bureau, it should take only 10 minutes to complete. Questions include the name, gender, and race of all people living in your household. The census form will be mailed beginning in March 2010. Census workers hand-deliver the forms in areas where the US Postal Service doesn't deliver mail.
Importance and Criticisms
The media blitz surrounding the 2010 census gives us an idea of how important the census is - at least as far as the government is concerned. There's a nation-wide road tour, and you can keep up to date with the progress on Twitter and YouTube. The Bureau even paid $2.5 million for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial.