Officials Concerned By Low Census Response In New Jersey

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STATE — Census Bureau Director Robert Groves noted today that some parts of New Jersey are lagging behind the rest of the country in mailing back their 2010 Census forms.

With Census Day on April 1, parts of New Jersey still have some of the lowest rates of mail participation. Nationally, 50 percent of households have mailed back their forms. But in parts of New Jersey, the participation rate is significantly lower, with Newark one of the farthest behind at 27 percent.

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Some of the cities in New Jersey with low mail participation rates as of Tuesday, March 30, are listed below, along with the mail participation rates they ultimately achieved in 2000. The national rate in 2000 was 72 percent.

  • Elizabeth City = 33% (Census 2000 = 59%)
  • Jersey City = 31% (Census 2000 = 55%)
  • Newark = 27% (Census 2000 = 49%)
  • Paterson = 29% (Census 2000 = 55%)

“We’re concerned about the relatively low response from parts of New Jersey,” Groves said. “Every household that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your form by mail.”

The emphasis on encouraging mail participation in the census is a practical one. For every percentage point increase in mail response, taxpayers will save an estimated $85 million in federal funds. Those funds would otherwise be required to send census takers to collect census responses in person from households that don’t mail back the form.

After the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau was able to return $305 million in savings to the federal Treasury because mail rates exceeded expectations — a move the Census Bureau would like to repeat in 2010.

“The 2010 Census is easy, important and safe,” Groves said. “It’s only 10 questions and should only take about 10 minutes to complete.”


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