Census workers go door to door starting May 1

Census takers will be fanning out into Washington State and knocking on the doors of households that didn’t mail back their 2010 forms beginning May 1.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, April 30, 2010 5:25pm
  • News

Census takers will be fanning out into Washington state and knocking on the doors of households that didn’t mail back their 2010 forms beginning May 1.

The U.S. Census Bureau will launch the Non-Response Follow-Up operations next month – where census takers will collect information from households that did not return their census forms. Nearly 11,000 Washington residents have been hired as census takers to complete this important task. About 635,000 census takers have been hired nationwide.

“The Non-Response Follow-Up operation plays a vital role in helping achieve an accurate 2010 Census count and determine the allocation of federal funds for community services,” said Ralph Lee, Regional Director. “We ask that you cooperate with census takers should they contact you. It’s easy, important and safe. Information collected by census takers cannot be shared with any other government agency; they’ve taken a lifetime oath to not share any data.”

The Local Census Office began monitoring mail response rates through the data capture centers in mid-March to begin estimating the local NRFU workload. Recruitment and training for NRFU operations began in November 2009, and approximately 11,000 Washingtonians have been hired as census takers to manage the local workload. The NRFU operations are scheduled to be completed by July 10, 2010.

In most cases, census workers will make initial visits during afternoons, early evenings and weekends.

If a 2010 Census worker knocks on your door, here are some ways to verify that person is a legitimate census taker:

· The census taker must present an ID badge that contains a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The census taker may also be carrying a black canvass bag with a Census Bureau logo.

· The census taker will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the local census office phone number for verification, if asked.

· The census taker only will ask you the questions that appear on the 2010 Census form.

· The 2010 Census taker will not ask for social security number, bank account number or credit card number and will never solicit for donations or contact you by e-mail.

In most cases, census workers will make up to six attempts at each housing unit address to count possible residents. This includes leaving notifications of the attempted visit at the house or apartment door, in addition to trying to reach the household by phone to conduct the interview or schedule an in-person interview.

Census takers will go to great lengths to ensure that no one is missed in the census. After exhausting their efforts to do an in-person interview with a resident of an occupied housing unit, they will seek out proxy sources — a neighbor, a rental agent, a building manager or some other knowledgeable person familiar with the housing unit — to obtain as much basic information about the occupants as they can.

Some households will receive a visit even though they may have mailed back their form. If the form arrived too late to be processed before non-response follow-up packets were sent to one of the 494 local census offices, the household occupants must still be interviewed when the census taker arrives. The Census Bureau is urging cooperation and patience with the census takers, as this is the best way to ensure that everyone is counted properly.

Households that didn’t receive a form by mail, including those that pick up their mail from post office boxes, will be visited by census workers as part of the follow-up plan. The Census Bureau doesn’t mail forms to post office boxes because responses must be associated with a specific residence location, not the post office box location.

The part-time, temporary census workers are hired from the communities they serve to obtain the remaining census responses. Census workers are your neighbors; they are familiar with the neighborhood and are working to ensure that it is accurately and completely represented.

The Census Bureau has stringent systems in place to ensure that people can feel safe when they open their door to a census taker. All census takers undergo an FBI background check that includes both name and fingerprint checks. All have taken an oath for life to protect the information they collect and understand that they face stiff penalties, jail time or both for any disclosure of personally identifiable information.

Note that the Census Bureau conducts several surveys in addition to the 2010 Census. For example, the American Community Survey is sent to approximately 3 million households annually and also involves follow-up from census workers. More information about the American Community Survey can be found on the Census Bureau Web site .

About the 2010 Census

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census takes place every 10 years. Census data determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually based on census data to pay for local programs and services, such as schools, highways, vocational training, emergency services, hospitals and much more. Learn more about the 2010 Census at www.2010.census.gov.

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