Story compiled by MCJ Staff
Wisconsin leads the nation in households that have returned their 2010 U.S. Census forms according to the Census Bureau.
As of last week, the Badger State had 76 percent return rate with Iowa and Minnesota tying for close second with 74 percent. Michigan and Nebraska were also tied to round out the top five with 71 percent.
The national participation rate is 65.
In Milwaukee, 47 percent of households have reportedly returned their forms. However, the response has been low from neighborhoods where the poverty rates are high. Fewer than one in three households have reportedly returned forms in some areas of the city.
The Census Bureau is now conducting a second mailing of forms to areas in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. All three states had response rates below the average in 2000.
This contradicts statistics that show the Midwest—especially Wisconsin—traditionally had very good response rates for the Census, according to a Census Bureau spokesperson.
The Bureau claims that every percentage point increase in the national participation rate by mail saves $85 million. It costs the government just 42 cents to get a questionnaire back in the mail.
However, it costs taxpayers an average of $57 to count a household that fails to mail it back.
The second mailing is being done to reduce the estimated $2.7 billion cost of sending Census takers to households that didn’t mail back their questionnaires.
Two weeks ago, a reported second mass mailing of questionnaires took place to housing units (portion of a town or city) that had a mail response rate of 59 percent or less in the last Census, regardless of whether those households had already returned their Census form.
Last week a second mailing of replacement forms took place in areas that had response rates between 59 and 67 percent, the release said.
Census forms must be postmarked by Friday, April 16 to meet the deadline and prevent a visit from a census taker.
Conducted very 10 years, the U.S. Census provides the count of every person in the nation.
The results are used to apportion congressional districts and divide up hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds.
In a Guest Commentary that appeared in the March 31 Community Journal, U.S. Cong. Gwen Moore said it is “absolutely crucial that we get an accurate count because every single person uncounted means lost funding.”
In the commentary, Moore said for every 100 people uncounted means a lost of $1.2 million in federal tax dollars for Milwaukee.
“We must be counted to get our fair share of our federal tax dollars,” Moore said. “And we also must make sure Milwaukee gets its voice in Washington and in Madison. The Census determines the number of seats Wisconsin has in the House of Representatives.”
Anyone who would like to know what percentage of their neighborhood already has turned in their forms can find information that is updated every weekday afternoon on the Take 10 Map on the 2010 Census Website.www.2010.census.gov/2010 census/take10map.