Are You Ready To Be Counted?

In 2010, the Census is coming to a home near you.

In fact, it is coming directly to your home.

In March 2010, you will receive in the mail a form asking questions about income, race, age, and other characteristics of all those living in your household. If you don’t fill out that form, you will receive a “second-chance” notice, and if the second-chance is ignored, you might just get a knock on the door from one of the thousands of Census takers hired to ask those questions of you directly (peak recruitment for hiring will begin soon for jobseekers). Many programs will take place as part of the Census, including personal interviews with people who are transitory and follow-up interviews.

With every Census comes the opportunity for many questions and myths to circulate. So below, we have tried to address some of the common questions about the Census, as well as some of the more nuanced misconceptions that are out there.

  1. How long does it take to fill out the Census?
  • In past Census years, one in six households received a “long-form” questionnaire asking not only for demographic information but also how much a household paid in property taxes and whether or not they had indoor plumbing. For lovers of statistics, the answers were a dream come true, but for households filling out the form, it was more of a nightmare. The 2010 Census will be “short-form” only, requiring “only minutes” to fill out. Data normally collected in the long-form is now collected yearly though the American Community Survey.
2. Why do I have to fill out the Census form?
  • There are a few reasons why you need to fill out the Census form, but the one that will get people’s attention first is this: it’s the law. Besides the fact that you have to fill out the form, there are many other benefits: the Census helps determine your community’s representation in Congress as well as the allocation of federal and state funding. It also helps determine where to build roads and schools and what services may be needed in a given area.
3. What if someone steals my information?
4. What if I am an illegal immigrant?
5. What languages will the Census form be sent in?
6. Why do we have a Census in the first place?
  • The Constitution mandates that everyone living in the United States be counted every ten years. This count is used to determine Congressional redistricting, community funding, and other information.
7. What is statistical sampling? Does it matter to me?
8. Have certain groups of people been “miscounted” in the Census?


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