The Importance of the Census

I received my Census form two days ago and have already mailed it back out. It literally took about 10 minutes and was absolutely painless. PLEASE fill your’s out and return it. Alright. On with the entry.

According to an article on the Associated Press website, the Pew Research Center poll shows marked improvement in public interest since January. At that time a poll showed 1 in 5 might not mail back the census form. Still, the new poll highlighted lingering apathy toward the head count, particularly among young adults. 

What most young adults probably don’t realize is the money that goes into these Census forms. They also probably have no idea how much more money is spent sending people out into the community to collect un-returned Census forms. According to the article linked above, Stephen Buckner, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said the increase in overall public awareness was heartening, noting that the government can save $1.5 billion in follow-up visits if everyone mails back their forms. That fact and that and my friends from the P.I. Reed School of Journalism worked so hard to spread awareness made me want to run out and mail mine ASAP.

So what can the Census Bureau do raise the participation level among young adults? Well one thing they’ve already done is created the Census on Campus Initiative. This seeks to educate, engage, and mobilize college and university students, administration, faculty, and parents, according to their site. The main page also goes on to say that historically, the highly mobile college student population living on and off campus has been hard to count – in part, because many people believe that college students are counted on their parents’ questionnaires. However, students living away from home will receive their own questionnaires, so to prevent students from being counted twice in the census, they and their parents need to know this.

Some of the initiatives participating states are as follows: Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and surprisingly Puerto Rico.

The site also provides a great tool page for those interested. Among those tools is one that I’m particularly familiar with, the American FactFinder. It is  an interactive application supports the Economic Census, the American Community Survey, the 1990 Census, Census 2000 and the latest population estimates. As a student of PR, I’ve been taught to familiarize myself with applications such as this one and I encourage everyone to take some time and check it out.

Please remember how important the Census is. When you receive it in the mail, take 15-20 minutes to sit down and fill it out. It will take longer if you live with more people, but I promise it won’t interfere with too much of your evening of CSI reruns.

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