By now, most residents have received a letter stating they will soon be receiving the 2010 Census and encouraging everyone to mail them back.
So, what is the Census, what does it ask and why is it important? The following from the 2010census.gov Web site answers those questions.
The U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States, and is required by the Constitution to take place every 10 years.
The 2010 Census will help communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for things like: hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects and emergency services.
The data collected by the census also help determine the number of seats a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In March of 2010, census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States and Puerto Rico. When you receive yours, just answer the 10 short questions and then mail the form back in the postage-paid envelope provided. If you don't mail the form back, you may receive a visit from a census taker, who will ask you the questions from the form.
The majority of the country will receive English--only materials. Households in areas with high concentrations of Spanish-speaking residents may receive a bilingual (English/Spanish) form.
Any personal data you provide is protected under federal law.
The questions on the form
Look for your census form in mid-March
How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?
We ask this question to help get an accurate count of the number of people in the household on Census Day, April 1, 2010. The answer should be based on the guidelines in the 'Start here' section. We use the information to ensure response accuracy and completeness and to contact respondents whose forms have incomplete or missing information.
Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1?
Asked since 1880. We ask this question to help identify people who may have been excluded in the count provided in Question 1. We use the information to ensure response accuracy and completeness and to contact respondents whose forms have incomplete or missing information.
Is this house, apartment, or mobile home: owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent?
Asked since 1890. Homeownership rates serve as an indicator of the nation's economy. The data are also used to administer housing programs and to inform planning decisions.
What is your telephone number?
We ask for a phone number in case we need to contact a respondent when a form is returned with incomplete or missing information.
Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1. What is Person 1's name?
Listing the name of each person in the household helps the respondent to include all members, particularly in large households where a respondent may forget who was counted and who was not. Also, names are needed if additional information about an individual must be obtained to complete the census form. Federal law protects the confidentiality of personal information, including names.
What is Person 1's sex?
Asked since 1790. Census data about sex are important because many federal programs must differentiate between males and females for funding, implementing and evaluating their programs. For instance, laws promoting equal employment opportunity for women require census data on sex. Also, sociologists, economists, and other researchers who analyze social and economic trends use the data.
What is Person 1's age and Date of Birth?
Asked since 1800. Federal, state, and local governments need data about age to interpret most social and economic characteristics, such as forecasting the number of people eligible for Social Security or Medicare benefits. The data are widely used in planning and evaluating government programs and policies that provide funds or services for children, working-age adults, women of childbearing age, or the older population.
Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?
Asked since 1970. The data collected in this question are needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State and local governments may use the data to help plan and administer bilingual programs for people of Hispanic origin.
What is Person 1's race?
Asked since 1790. Race is key to implementing many federal laws and is needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State governments use the data to determine congressional, state and local voting districts. Race data are also used to assess fairness of employment practices, to monitor racial disparities in characteristics such as health and education and to plan and obtain funds for public services.
Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?
This is another question we ask in order to ensure response accuracy and completeness and to contact respondents whose forms have incomplete or missing information.
That's it. Return in the postage paid envelope and you should be done. But, if you forget to mail it in or you miss the April 1 deadline, prepare for a visit from a census worker.
Avoiding a visit from a census worker
The best way to avoid a personal visit from a census worker is to complete the census form and return it by the April 1 deadline. Census workers will be assigned to visit addresses that have not completed the census form and mailed it back by the deadline. Those who return the form by the deadline will most likely not receive a visit from a census worker, although census workers are visiting some households to perform quality checks. These checks require that some households be visited more than once. Additionally, if you returned your census form late, your response might not be logged before a census worker is sent out.
Some tips to remember
* Any request for census information from the Census Bureau will be clearly marked as coming from the U.S. Census Bureau and as Official Business of the United States.
* All census workers carry official government badges marked with their name. You can also ask for a second identification to compare to the government badge. Never answer questions until you have seen the ID badge.
* Currently census workers are only knocking on doors to verify address information. No other information should be asked of you until March 2010 when the census forms are mailed.
* The Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers.
* Census workers will never under any circumstances ask to enter your home.
* Census workers will never ask for any information to be submitted online or through e-mail.