My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Archive for March, 2009

Today’s Editorial from The New York Times

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009


A Champion for the Census?

Confirmed by the Senate last week, Gary Locke, the new commerce secretary, is off to a good start. For his first official act, he attended a Census 2010 kick-off rally in the capital on Monday morning, after taking a red eye from his home state of Washington.

His attendance raises hope that the Obama administration is now truly focused on the upcoming census, which was largely mismanaged and undermined during the Bush years. As a result of those policies, the census is widely acknowledged to be at high risk of failure unless emergency remedial action is taken.

Mr. Locke’s high-profile attention to the census comes not a moment too soon. The decennial count starts in earnest this week, as 140,000 census workers, deployed out of 150 local offices, begin a street-by-street canvassing operation to verify and update more than 145 million addresses. Based on the canvassing results, some 120 million households will receive specially bar-coded census forms by mail early next year.

If all goes according to plan, about two-thirds of the recipients will complete and return the form; the government will try to interview the remainder in person by dispatching hundreds of thousands of census takers to nonrespondents’ homes. And that is only a snapshot of the undertaking. In terms of personnel, logistics, statistical expertise, managerial support and sheer human effort, the decennial census is the nation’s largest nonmilitary mobilization.

Mr. Locke has much to do besides rally the troops. The administration must, without further delay, nominate a new census director. Currently, the bureau is being run by civil servants who are dedicated and proficient but lack the authority — and political support — that comes from a director who has the ear of the commerce secretary.

Since it will probably take several months for a director nominee to be vetted and confirmed, Mr. Locke must also begin to tackle some of the thorniest census problems on his own. For instance, in the run-up to other censuses, the federal government has eased up on immigration raids and other intimidating forms of immigration enforcement in an effort to cut down on the number of people who are afraid to be counted. The word must go out from the Obama administration that it expects the same cooperation as the 2010 count approaches.

Mr. Locke and the administration must also undo some of the most damaging census decisions by the Bush administration — like the decision earlier in this decade to push the date for cross-checking the census numbers back to October 2010. The census counts people in the country as of April 1, 2010, and the double-check on the numbers — which reveals an undercount or overcount — has always taken place in June or July. If the numbers are not checked until October, it will be virtually impossible to get a gauge of their accuracy, because the longer the time between the count and the cross-check, the less reliable the data will be.

Inclusiveness and accuracy are essential to an honest, robust count. After years of neglect, it will take a heroic effort to pull off a worthy 2010 census. We applaud Mr. Locke’s initial effort.

Groups Encourage Census Participation to Prevent Missouri From Losing Representation

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Missouri could keep all of its current congressional seats and secure additional federal funding if more residents fill out next year’s census. Officials say if 60,000 extra people fill out the form next year, Missouri may not lose a U.S. House seat and the state could receive a larger share of health care and education funding based on census data. From KOMU Missouri:

JEFFERSON CITY – The Complete Count Committee, a 26 member organization of state community leaders, met Monday to discuss how to prevent Missouri from loosing federal benefits due to the 2010 census.

Analysts predict Missouri will lose one of its nine representatives and federal funding for things like Head Start programs, emergency food and shelter, and public transportation because of population loss.

Changes, including a shorter 10-question census and hand-held computers with Global Positioning System, will make canvassing by census employees smoother.

The CCC says its main goal is to get people whose addresses they don’t have to still respond to the census. They can’t contact these people through the mail, and so those residents have to go to census collection sites to be counted.

The CCC is gathering support to create divisional CCCs at the state, local, and community levels. These volunteer groups will conduct events and activities to inform people of the importance of the census. In the past census, groups ranging from college sororities to ethnic community groups have taken on the role of a CCC to count hard-to-reach groups.

“With their cooperation, they’re able to assist us at the state, where maybe the state in its totality, doesn’t know those same pockets, can’t get to the same community members, and so they basically become a vital resource,” said Kelvin Simmons of the Office of Administration.

Failing to count college students because of Spring Break

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Most  colleges give their students a week off in March for Spring Break. This coincides with the exact time that the Census Bureau will be making its final push to collect data before Census Day (April 1, 2010). Will college students, who are meant to be counted as residents of wherever they go to school, forgo trips to Cancun and Jamaica to fill out census paperwork? Probably not. Can we say that this is an “accident waiting to happen?” Absolutely….

With one year until Census Day, more recommendations for the U.S. Census Bureau

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

With only 365 days to go before Census Day (April 1, 2010), MyTwoCensus.com continues our series on improving the U.S. Census Bureau’s hiring practices:

Problem 2: The Census Bureau’s field positions like “crew leader” are not filled by applicants who possess the proper skills for the job.

The Government Accountability Office’s 2007 report titled “2010 Census: Census Bureau should refine recruiting and hiring efforts and enhance training of temporary field staff” (hereafter referred to as the GAO 2007 Report) clearly states that the current system for hiring crew leaders does not produce employees with the proper skill sets needed for their jobs:

“The competencies needed by a crew leader were different from those required in other field positions. For example, while it was important for field staff working in the nonresponse follow-up operation to have arithmetic and visual identification skills, crew leaders need skills such as management, leadership, and creative thinking. Bureau officials stated that crew leaders are also responsible for providing on-the-job training where necessary and will accompany workers who are facing problems. Further, with the reengineering of the 2010 Census, crew leaders are responsible for troubleshooting the handheld computers that other field staff uses to collect census data.

We reviewed the Bureau’s hiring tools during the 2006 test and found that they do not differentiate between crew leaders and other field positions. Bureau officials said they do not expect to revise these tools for the 2010 Census because the selection guide used during phone interviews has two sets of questions for the crew leaders. However, these two sets of questions do not specifically ask whether applicants have experience in providing training or using computers. One set of questions asked candidates if they were familiar with the area in which they live and the second set of questions asked about their leadership experiences and willingness to lead others. Officials told us that the selection tools the Bureau plans to use in the 2010 Census will be largely unchanged from those used in Census 2000 and the 2004 and 2006 tests.”

In an era where Google Maps can depict every structure in America using satellite photos, “familiarity” with specific streets and neighborhoods is unnecessary for crew leaders. The Census Bureau should instead hire crew leaders based on the aforementioned management, leadership, and creative thinking skills necessary to successfully complete the decennial headcount.

We know it’s cliche, but we’re now on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MyTwoCensus

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Follow us on Twitter for your daily dose of 2010 Census updates! It’s easy: http://twitter.com/MyTwoCensus

Was the 2000 Census accurate? Probably not…

Monday, March 30th, 2009

An article from the Northwest Cable News illustrates some great findings from researchers at the University of Washington who feel that race data has been inaccurately collected because there have been too few choices on previous census forms:

New research by the University of Washington finds that many Americans, especially Hispanics and Latinos, don’t consider themselves black, white or American Indian, three of the top choices on the 2000 census.

Dr. Tony Perez from UW says there is a massive disconnect between common ideas about race and the way the government officially classifies and measures people.

Perez found a large of number of people classified themselves as “some other race,” making that classification the third largest group behind whites and blacks.

“(This) gets you into this weird space where you have non-Hispanic whites versus Hispanic whites, blacks, so forth and so on,” he said.

Jan McStay with the census bureau says for 2010 there will be some clarifications. For instance there will be a choice for ethnic origin and then race.

“I think we have a very accurate portrait of who we and how we see ourselves in America,” said McStay.

The study also delves into the issue of mixed race classifications.

The full report is now available in the March issue of the journal Population and Development Review.

Live-Blogging the 2010 Census One-Year Kickoff…

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Since MyTwoCensus was unable to send staff to this morning’s kickoff event at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., we turn to our fellow census aficionado Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post for his live coverage of the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Parnter Kick-off event:

12:10 p.m.: Wrapup: As the meetings wrap and participants prepare for a networking lunch, Census officials note this is the first time they’ve hosted this type of event in Washington to bring together national partners. Roughly 250 people attended this meeting, representing a small sampling of the tens of thousands of national and local groups that will help the Census boost participation and erase concerns about the count.

11:32 a.m.: Congressional Oversight: Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.) chairman of the House subcommittee with oversight of the Census, will tell audience members later today that “We need to know what’s happening in your communities and how we can help you. We will also depend on you to expose any attempts to misinform or deceive the public by those who are attempting to suppress the count.” Reinforcing the message of Census Bureau officials, Clay says that “We have heard time and time again about sinister tricks to dissuade immigrants from completing their census forms. As trusted voices, you can speak, and people will listen to you. Let your communities know that the census is confidential and they need not fear their government. That the information they provide to the census bureau is protected by law. And if anyone shares it, the violator is subject to imprisonment.”

“The subcommittee will continue to work to make sure that resources are targeted to the hardest to enumerate areas, including Asians, Latinos, African Americans and emerging markets. We will continue to monitor the recruitment, hiring and training process to ensure that those communities that are hardest to count have enumerators from within their own communities. We will hold regular oversight hearings to examine every aspect of the 2010 census to make sure the bureau stays on track and is working with its partners to reduce the undercount. Finally, we will closely monitor the selection and appointment of the next census director.”

11:29 a.m.: Handheld Computer Demonstration: The Eye just got a demonstration of the handheld computers that address canvassers will use to verify each address nationwide. We’ll try posting video of the demonstration later.

10:54 a.m.: Partner With Us: Here’s a link to “Partner With Us,” the online home for the bureau’s partners. It includes all the tools any group would need to help the bureau get the word out and boost participation.

10:24 a.m.: Media Partners: Representatives from BET, World Journal (North America’s largest Asian publication) and Univision, Telemundo and Azteca America have presented or hinted at their plans to talk up the Census among their niche audiences. Telemundo President Donald Browne showed the audience his network’s “Hazte Contar” campaign, while Azteca’s Armando Guzman showed off his network’s “Porque tu vales – dejates contar” campaign — both designed to increase trust and participation in the Census. Nielsen’s Don Lowery reminded the crowd of the Census’ big impact on corporate America: “Without the Census, there is no Nielsen. It’s vitally important to us,” he said, since Nielsen ratings data is based on Census data about American households.

9:40 a.m.: Who’s in Attendance?: Representatives from media companies including BET, Univision, National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Nielsen Company and Fundacion Azteca America that will help spread the word through public service announcements and other efforts; representatives from national organizations including Goodwill Industries, Asian American Justice Center, National Congress of American Indians, Voto Latino and NAACP, who will also spread the word among their members.

9:35 a.m.: Address Canvassing Starts Next Week: Census Associate Director Arnold Jackson reminds the crowd that next week “We will begin to deploy 140,000 field workers to conduct address canvassing,” meaning the bureau “will utilize the 150 offices we’ve opened and the millions of dollars of technology and infrastructure we have bought and tested all rolls out.”

Jackson tells the crowd that “We have one year to convince populations that may approach 18 to 20 percent who are cynical about the Census that this is a good thing to do. That’s where you come in. I’m sure that you know better than I that there are respondents who are easy to count. There are others who just need a little awareness. However it’s the 18 to 20 percent who probably don’t want to participate that we will only reach with your assistance.”

The bureau will publish census guides in 59 languages. Bilingual questionnaires (English and Spanish) will be mailed to 13 million households.

“A superb census will come about only if we get to those who today, don’t plan to participate,” Jackson said.

9:20 a.m.: Gary Locke’s First Public Appearance: The commerce secretary made his first appearance as commerce secretary here this morning, saying he arrived in Washington from Seattle at 3 a.m.

“Instead of going to the Department of Commerce this morning, I came here,” he said to applause. “This is my very first stop in my official duty as secretary of commerce.”

“We’re going to make sure that the Census Bureau has the independent leadership it deserves and the professional oversight that Americans demand,” Locke told the crowd at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Locke stressed that the bureau depends on volunteer organizations, including the various corporations and civil rights groups gathered today to learn more about next year’s plans.

“Any information collected by the Census Bureau is absolutely confidential,” he reminded attendees. “Please let people know that the 2010 Census is very simple. 2010: ten questions, ten minutes. Completing the census form will be very very easy. For every Census form returned in the mail, it will save the federal government more money down the road.”


How to count “seasonal” guests…

Friday, March 27th, 2009

For once, when we’re talking about “seasonal” guests, we’re not referring to undocumented immigrants. At the other end of the spectrum, today we’re descussing the elite an the hyper-elite. An article from today’s Martha’s Vineyard Gazette explains how the 2010 Census results may affect this playground for the rich and famous, many of whom spend time at their second/third/fourth/fifth homes on the island:

As a team of surveyors prepares to prep the Vineyard for the 2010 U.S. census, the dismal economy is adding bite to questions about accurately counting the transient Island population — since census numbers translate into government spending numbers.

The census provides a population snapshot of one day in April. It’s also a federal spending tool which the census bureau says accounts for some $300 billion in federal spending. Using census numbers, the government allocates spending for schools, roads, bridges, hospitals and other essential services.

Yet the bureau has acknowledged that several million ethnic minorities went uncounted in the 2000 census. Another potential for inaccuracy pertains to resort communities: the bureau announced an overcount of 1.3 million people, due primarily to duplicate counts of whites with second homes.

Then there is the overarching problem that an April survey cannot factor in the huge population bump the Island experiences each summer.

“We’re getting money as if we’re 15,000 but in summer we’re 75,000,” Martha’s Vineyard Commission affordable housing and economic development planner Christine Flynn told the Gazette last year.

Ten Vineyard census employees will spend April updating address lists and performing a count of Island dwellings. Using this information, surveys will be sent out to be completed on April 1, 2010.

Mark Forrest, chief of staff for congressman William D. Delahunt, said yesterday that the seasonal population shift is at the root of a never-ending funding battle.

“We have a tax burden for the infrastructure which falls disproportionately on a smaller, less affluent year-round population. We have the burden of supporting a large, fluctuating population,” he said, “and we’re constantly fighting the perception that the Cape and Islands is the land of the rich.”

Mr. Forrest predicts the predicament will be reflected in the apportioning of the recent federal stimulus package.

“I think we’re geared up for getting more than we’ll end up getting,” he said. “We often feel unfairly singled out to get hit at the schools level and for clean water needs and roads and bridges. There’s a perception [among Cape and Islanders] that we’re not getting our fair share, and that’s a perception [the congressman] shares.”

There is $250 million in federal stimulus money marked for census outreach, to help make more accurate counts of displaced residents and illegal immigrants. Mr. Forrest said it was unlikely that any of this funding will be directed at the Vineyard.

Census Editorial from the Baltimore Sun

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The Counting Crows have a classic song called Raining in Baltimore,  but today, it’s raining 2010 Census talk in Baltimore:

In Baltimore and across Maryland, preparations for the 2010 census are already under way, and the outcome is critical because the count will be used to decide where to invest billions for everything from mass transit to economic redevelopment and health services. In just a year – on April 1, 2010 – the effort to locate more than 5.8 million Marylanders in 2.2 million households will peak with a door-to-door survey of the state.

An accurate count is vital also because it sets the stage for political redistricting necessary to uphold the principal of equal political representation and for Maryland to receive its fair share of federal aid. In the last fiscal year, Maryland received more than $5.8 billion in federal formula-based grants. That’s more than $1,000 for every person in the state. An undercount of as little as 100,000 of the state’s residents would translate to a loss of $4 billion in federal revenue over the next 10 years.

Getting a good measure is particularly critical in urban areas such as Baltimore where people are hard to count and poverty can lead to extra housing, health and education assistance. In 2007, the Census Bureau estimated that Baltimore had 637,455 residents, but the city challenged that number and eventually won an adjustment to 640,150. Those 2,695 extra people netted the state an additional $5.4 million in federal aid.

To ensure the best possible count, more than 1,000 census workers will be canvassing Maryland later this year to verify the mailing list for census questionnaires that will go out next March. Next April’s door-to-door canvas will be led by 6,500 temporary Census Bureau employees whose efforts will supplemented by schools, churches and community organizations distributing census educational materials.

Census workers take to the streets…MyTwoCensus Editorial Series on Bureau’s Hiring Practices Begins

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

As the first phase of America’s largest peacetime mobilization effort (that’s what the Bureau calls it, even though we’re at war in Iraq), gets underway, thousands of Census Bureau enumerators have started making door to door checks to verify addresses. However, one wonders: Who are these Census Bureau employees given this great responsibility of using handheld computers to determine what is a residence and what is not a residence?

As you will learn in a 10 Part MyTwoCensus Editorial Series called 10 PROBLEMS WITH 2010 CENSUS HIRING PRACTICES that begins below (1 problem will be addressed every day for the next two weeks), the Census Bureau is not hiring the best and brightest to work for them.

In the midst of the financial crisis, the U.S. Census Bureau has squandered its opportunity to hire a plethora of well-qualified and even over-qualified individuals who applied to work for the 2010 Census. The reasons for this error: antiquated and inefficient hiring practices.

In the past, it has been a struggle to find qualified applicants for census jobs. But with the economy in shambles, the opposite is true today. The following document explains why the 2010 Census hiring process has resulted in discrimination against many individuals who should have been hired to work for the 2010 Census.

Problem 1: The Census Bureau uses three main factors, all imported into a computer database, to determine which applicants it will hire: Test scores, address, and language skills.

Such information as education, supervisory experience, job history, and references are not initially considered in the hiring process but should be. Though applicants provide some of this information in their applications, it has no bearing on the computer database that rates prospective applicants.

If you want the dough, mail back your census questionnaires

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Today, GreaterGreaterWashington.org posted a great article about the correlation between mailing back census questionnaires and obtaining funding for Washington, D.C. From the article:

Studies show that the 1990 and 2000 Census failed to accurately tally the population, particularly the poor, children and minorities. As a result, these groups most likely lost programs and services that serve their communities. The failure of the Census to accurately count the District of Columbia’s population seriously shortchanged the federal funding the District deserves to fund schools, roads, health facilities, housing, and other important services for people who were not counted. Thus, the Census is more than just “counting people”.

In almost one year, households across the nation will receive the 2010 Census questionnaire in their mailboxes. One way to improve the count is to improve the mail-back response rate. The mail-back response rates indicates how many housing units returned a census paper questionnaire by mail. In 2000, the national mail-back response rate was 67%. The mail-back response rate for the District of Columbia was slightly lower, at 60%. A low mail-back rate reduces the accuracy of the census as well as drives up the cost of because interviewers must be sent out to households that did not return the questionnaire.

Using Census tract data on mail-back response rates, I calculated the 2000 Census response rate by ward. (Here is a map of the wards). Below are the approximate mail-back response rates. Update by David: I’ve created a map showing each ward with a color ranging from red to green based on the response rate. This uses the current ward map, however; ward boundaries shifted some since the 2000 Census.

  • Ward 1 – 57%
  • Ward 2 – 59%
  • Ward 3 – 77%
  • Ward 4 – 66%
  • Ward 5 – 58%
  • Ward 6 – 61%
  • Ward 7 – 56%
  • Ward 8 – 45%

Ward 3 had the highest mail-back rates for the District, while Ward 8 had the lowest. Several neighborhoods across Ward 8 had mail-back response rates below 40%, including Barry Farms, Congress Heights, Woodland and Fort Stanton. The low mail-back rates for poorer wards, such as 5, 7, and 8 is troubling. We need to improve that for the next census to ensure that those communities are counted and receive funding for critical social programs.

Fake Homeless People Used As Decoys in Census

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Today, we picked up a news brief from the Philadelphia Metro that told a horror story: People in Toronto, Canada were paid to act homeless as 2009 Census counts were being taken, ostensibly to boost the amount of money that Toronto received from Canada’s federal government. Uh-oh. Let’s hope shenanigans on par with that don’t occur in America, but with so many public officials desperate to show high counts, we at MyTwoCensus wouldn’t be surprised if American municipalities tried to use similar illegal tactics. Here’s a more detailed  report that we found about the Toronto situation from the National Post:

When volunteers venture into Toronto’s streets to survey the homeless next month, some of those approached to answer questions will be planted decoys carrying $100 prepaid Visa cards.

The city admitted yesterday that about 50 fake homeless people will be planted among the real homeless in order to bolster the statistical validity of the results.

But some councillors questioned yesterday why the city is giving money to pretend street people rather than those who need it.

“My first reaction is, ‘Wouldn’t you be better off giving that amount to an actual homeless person so they can get something to eat or some clothes or something?’ ” wondered councillor Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke Lakeshore).

“That’s probably a good point,” said Pat Anderson, a spokeswoman for Toronto’s department of Shelter, Support and Housing.

But she explained the $100 cards are simply compensation for about 350 of the approximately 1,000 survey takers who will go out on Toronto streets and visit shelters April 15 to assess the needs of the homeless.

She said the results of the first such census the city took in 2006 helped improve services aimed at people living on the streets or in shelters.

About $100,000 is set aside for the second study, including $35,000 to compensate those conducting the survey, Ms. Anderson said. Of those, 300 are team leaders who have more responsibility and 50 are the so-called decoys, who will be present on streets but not in shelters.

Councillor Janet Davis (Beaches East York), chairwoman of the community development and recreation committee, said the mandate of the volunteers is to get an accurate reading of how many people they approach are homeless.

“The audit volunteers are supposed to go and speak with and interview everyone, whether they look homeless or whether they’re wearing a suit and tie, whether they’re lying in a sleeping bag on the ground,” she said.

“That would capture all of the control group and the decoys as well.”

The first question is whether the person has a place to stay that night.

If the answer is yes, the subject is sent on their way. If the answer is no, a survey of needs is conducted, Ms. Davis said.

The control group, however, is supposed to answer the questions anyhow, then give a sticker to the surveyor at the end showing they are among the plants.

Ms. Davis said the methodology was designed by academics who are experts on statistics.

“It’s an important mechanism to ensure the statistical reliability of the overall results,” she said. “If it’s discovered that some of the decoys or the control group were not interviewed, then the overall results will be adjusted accordingly. Because we can then assume that some of the overall [homeless] population was missed as well. It’s a quality-assurance measure.”

Gary Locke, Welcome to the Club: Commerce Secretary Is Confirmed

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

As reported by all major news outlets, former Washington state Governor Gary Locke is now our counter-in-cheif. A note to Gary: We look forward to working with you and hope that you ensure that the 2010 Census is conducted in the most fair and accurate way possible. From The New York Times:

The Senate, by voice vote, has confirmed Gary Locke, a former governor of Washington, as commerce secretary. Mr. Locke, 59, was the nation’s first Chinese-American governor. In the commerce job, he has promised to focus on job creation and to closely oversee the 2010 census. Mr. Locke was President Obama’s third choice to run the Commerce Department; his first two withdrew. The Commerce Department has broad responsibilities, including the census, many aspects of international trade, oceans policy and weather forecasts. It is also overseeing the transition to digital television.

Sending the message across (minority) communities

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Today, both Ed O’Keefe’s Federal Eye blog and Max Cacas of Federal News Radio discussed how the Census Bureau is using a massive PR/Advertisin campaign to increase participation by minorities in the 2010 Census.

From the Federal Eye:

Amid fears that millions of people may be overlooked during next year’s census, the Census Bureau will launch a $250 million promotional campaign to encourage participation in the decennial head count, especially among hard-to-reach minority groups in urban areas.

More than half those funds will go for advertising across traditional and social media, and nearly a quarter will be devoted exclusively to Asian, black and Hispanic outlets.

“A year from now, the populace will have seen and heard more ads in national and local media than in any prior census,” the Census Bureau’s acting director, Thomas L. Mesenbourg, told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.

The agency will also hire 2,000 temporary employees by the end of June to coordinate efforts with more than 10,000 local organizations and corporations to help encourage greater participation. Companies including General Mills and Target and civil rights groups including the NAACP will encourage their customers and members to fill out census forms next year.

All of this is necessary to help boost participation levels among the nation’s undercounted groups, mostly ethnic minorities in economically depressed areas. How the bureau decides to advertise could prove crucial to next year’s count, said Stacey Cumberbach, New York City’s census coordinator.

“While the census is a federal responsibility, there must be earlier and ongoing communication and accountability to local governments and communities,” she said at yesterday’s hearing, noting that 55 percent of New York residents responded to the 2000 census questionnaires, compared with 66 percent nationally.

But any attempt at coordination with local governments may be adversely affected by their tight budgets, according to Robert Goldenkoff of the Government Accountability Office. He also noted that the bureau could encounter many people who refuse to answer questions because of their general distrust of government or fear of revealing their immigration status.

At a forum last week sponsored by the Brookings Institution, census officials and other experts also warned that increases in foreclosure and joblessness would make it harder to accurately count the population during the 2010 census because more Americans are moving out of their homes and into shelters or other locations where they may be more difficult for census workers to find.

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said minority populations are more likely to be affected because they are being hit harder by job losses and foreclosures. “Another undercount of the Latino community, of which there has been in every single census, simply represents a failed census,” Vargas said.

From Federal News Radio:

One year from now, the Census Bureau expects to be on-the-air, in print, and online with a message for all: please fill out your census forms!

It is all part of the effort to make sure everyone is counted in the 2010 Census.

The House Census Subcommittee, chaired by Missouri Democrat William Lacy Clay, met yesterday to explore how the Census Bureau was planning on using the media to get the word out on the decennial population count, particularly to those people considered “hard to count”.

How will the communications plan decrease the undercount, and increase the mail response rate of the hard to count communities?

For the answers, Clay turned to Thomas Mesenbourg, acting Director of the Census Bureau, who explained that the plan is to expand on a program, successful in the 2000 census, to reach ethnic minorities, those in lower income communities, and others that past censuses have found difficult to count accurately.

Messenbourg said they were devoting $250 million from $1 billion in stimulus money for outreach that will include stepped-up canvassing of addresses to identify residences with multiple dwellers and homes now abandoned due to mortgage foreclosures.

The money will also be used to boost the bureau’s advertising budget by $80 million, of which $26 million would target the fast-growing Asian and Hispanic populations using television, radio and online spots. Another $10 million would be spent on the undercounted black community.

The Census Bureau is getting help in honing and focusing its communications campaign to hard-to-count communities from DraftFCB, a communications firm. Executive vice president Tim Karakajian outlined their most recent step: a cross-country research and fact-finding tour, in which they tested draft versions of commercials with more than 1,400 people in all 40 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, to make sure their message is effective with target audiences.

Where’s the IT Department?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

In our function as a watchdog for the 2010 Census, we want you to know that the Census Bureau’s IT Department is still slumping…be prepared for technological challenges in the days ahead.

Gimme Shelter: Counting America’s Homeless Population

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

In all of the debates surrounding the 2010 Census, one population group as been largely ignored, even by the ultra-liberals: The Homeless. Since these numbers are so difficult to track, estimates vary greatly, but there are most likely between 700,000 and 2,000,000 homeless people in America. With the slumping economy, evictions on the rise, and shelters becoming filled to capacity, tracking this significant number of people is necessary for federal dollars to be be allocated properly.

In the first nationwide assessment of the number of homeless people in over a decade, the Homelessness Research Institute of the National Alliance to End Homelessness found that in January 2005 there were 744,313 people homeless on a single night. Other figures in the report:

• 56 percent of homeless people counted were living in shelters and transitional housing and shockingly, 44 percent were unsheltered.

• 59 percent of homeless people counted were single adults and 41 percent were people living in families.

• 23 percent of homeless people were reported as chronically homeless, meaning they were disabled and had been homeless for long periods of time or repeatedly.

• Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington were the states with the highest ratio of homeless people per capita.

Viva la Revolution! Let them eat cake…errr…baklava!

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Today, France announced that it’s considering collecting census data to determine the ethnic makeup of its citizens. As is the case with many things French, this idea was met with much opposition:

France is for the first time launching a commission to investigate ways of measuring the country’s ethnic make-up.

The commission is being set up by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s adviser on tackling discrimination, Yazid Sabeg.

Mr Sabeg said it was “essential to measure how effective are official policies combating discrimination”.

But opponents say his idea breaches the French principle of equality for all. Classifying people by race or religious beliefs is currently illegal in France.

How many Hispanics live in the United States?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

The question that headlines this post is essentially the biggest question related to the 2010 Census. The number of Hispanics in America will obviously depend on two factors:

1. How many Hispanics (particularly illegal/undocumented immigrants) are physically counted.

2. How many Hispanics (particularly illegal/undocumented immigrants) will be artificially added to the final tally of people?

P.S. – On an unrelated note, The National Journal showed up way too late in the game by predicting today that the 2010 headcount will be a “disaster.”

Summary of newsworthy issues facing the 2010 Census

Friday, March 20th, 2009

The 2010 Census is as hot a topic as ever, so here are links to today’s most important news stories related to the decennial headcount…

1. Will same-sex couples be counted in the 2010 Census?

2. How will the economy affect the 2010 Census?

3. How will the controversial community group ACORN be involved with the 2010 Census?

4. How will Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary affect the 2010 Census?

5. How will demographic shifts affect the 2010 Census?

Census Day in the UK: March 27, 2011

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Check out this AP report from the United Kingdom:

Around 35,000 temporary jobs are to be created to work on the next national census, it has been announced.

The Office for National Statistics said the £25 million contract had been awarded to Capita to deliver the project in England and Wales in 2011.

A rehearsal will be held this October before the actual census takes place on March 27, 2011.

The jobs will include area managers and teams of checkers as well as delivery and collection staff.

The census will involve collecting information from more than 25 million households and is held every 10 years.

Census director Glen Watson said of the contract: “It is a significant milestone in our planning for the next census which is now just two years away.

“Information from the census helps to inform many decisions made by central and local governments about policies, planning and services.

“The census provides vital information that helps to allocate funding for national and local services, so it is critical that we recruit the right people.”