The national count begins – in your mailbox

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Census forms will start arriving in the mail this week, and residents are urged to fill them out and send them back ASAP.
The forms are part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s massive, once-a-decade population count. This year’s version is the shortest and easiest in history, with just 10 questions.
Residents will be asked for the number of people in their household, whether they rent or own, their name, gender, age, birthday, race, and telephone number, as well as if they sometimes live somewhere else.
They’ll then be asked to provide the same information on each additional member of the home.
The information is used only for the census and is not shared with any other agency.
“It’s nothing invasive,” said Kat Smith, media specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau. “It’s so simple.”
Postage-paid envelopes will be provided to return the completed forms to the U.S. Census Bureau; residents do not need to buy stamps.
Each of the roughly 120 million forms mailed this week by the bureau has a bar code, which will be scanned when the envelopes are returned. In mid-April, the bar code reader will alert census workers to which households haven’t yet mailed back their forms.
The Census Bureau will then send field workers to those homes and ask residents to return the completed forms.
“Fill it out and send it back,” Smith said, “and no one will knock on your door.”
During the 2000 Census effort, 63 percent of Mississippi households returned their questionnaires compared to 67 percent nationwide.
Northeast Mississippi was even lower at only 60 percent – Itawamba County had the highest rate in the region with 69 percent; Chickasaw had the lowest with 53 percent.
Information gathered from the census helps allocate some $400 billion in federal funds to states, counties and cities. It also helps determine the number of congressional seats for each state.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.