In April 8 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Russell County's participation rate in the 2010 Census currently stands at 65 percent, nine percentage points higher than the final rate back in 2000 for the county, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Kentucky's participation rate is at 62 percent as of April 5, while 10 years ago the state finished with a 70 percent total participation rate.
On the national level, there currently stands a 56 percent completion rate whereas, in the last census, there was a final 72 percent completion rate for the country.
While April 1 has passed, it is still not too late for Russell Countians to return their census forms if they they have not already done so.
Last week, most houses in the state received a replacement 2010 Census questionnaire that is designed to increase census mail participation, get a better count for the state, and save taxpayers the higher cost of sending out census takers to collect information, according to William W. Hatcher, regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau.
These replacement questionnaires were mailed to the local homes despite a first questionnaire mailing in mid-March that many locals responded to.
Those who may have thrown away or misplaced the first questionnaire should fill out the replacement, but folks should only complete and return one census form, Hatcher said.
“From our research, we estimate that mailing out a replacement questionnaire in targeted areas might save more than $500 million by raising the participation rate by seven to 10 percentage points,” he said. “The replacement form gives households a second chance to fill out the form and return it by mail before we begin going door-to-door May 1 to collect census information.”
The initial 10-question census questionnaires were mailed to 1.89 million Kentucky homes. As of the fifth of this month, 62 percent of the received questionnaires had been returned in the state.
Around 40 million of the replacement questionnaires have been sent nationwide to homes in areas with low mail return rates from the census back in 2000, even if they have already returned the initial 2010 questionnaire.
Hatcher said that people who have completed and returned their questionnaires do not need to fill out the replacement census form and those who still have the original questionnaire should fill it out and mail it back immediately in the census provided, postage-paid envelope.
Any extra census forms should be thrown away, he said.
The collected census information will help determine how more than $400 billion in federal money gets distributed to state and local governments each year this decade.
“The replacement questionnaire is a safety net and a wise investment,” Hatcher said. “It reminds people who have not mailed back their questionnaires to send it in now. It doesn’t matter if they return the original form or the replacement form. Both are barcoded to ensure that people are counted only once and in the right place.”
Questionnaire Assistance Centers and Be Counted Sites are open locally at Somerset Community College's Russell Center at 848 Steve Wariner Dr. in Russell Springs and the main branch of the Russell County Public Library at 94 N. Main St. in Jamestown to assist people in filling out their census forms.
For additional help in completing the census form, call the toll-free Telephone Questionnaire Help Line at 1-866-872-6868. Spanish speakers can call 1-866-928-2010.
A temporary census office is also now open in nearby Somerset on East Mt. Vernon St. and can be reached at 606-219-4870.
Federal law requires census participation and protects personal information. At the time of their census worker certification, the workers took a confidentiality oath that, if broken, could result in a fine of up to $250,000 and five years imprisonment.
A census worker will not ask for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card information or any personal information.
These census workers will begin going door-to-door collecting information for residents who do not turn in their forms by late April and are identifiable by an official U.S. Census Bureau badge.
The 2000 Census showed Russell County's population at 16,315, a number that is expected to rise substantially yet again in this year when final figures are released following the conclusion of the count.