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.

Census Bureau falls short in East St. Louis

Here’s a piece from the Bellvue News-Democrat:

$300,000 census promotion falls short in East St. Louis

Only 63 percent of residents mailed in their forms

BY SCOTT WUERZ – News-Democrat
Despite the investment of more than $300,000 in promotional programs designed to encourage East St. Louis residents to return their census forms, the city had the worst participation rate of any large community in the metro-east.

According to U.S. Census Bureau records, 63 percent of East St. Louis residents mailed in their forms. O’Fallon had the highest return rate of any large city in the metro-east with an 81 percent response rate.

Edwardsville saw 80 percent of residences return their census forms, Fairview Heights had a 79 percent response rate, Granite City had a 78 percent return, 77 percent of Belleville residences and 75 percent of Collinsville households returned their census forms.

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17 Responses to “Census Bureau falls short in East St. Louis”

  1. Enumeratrix Says:

    It’s not quite clear from the article whether the $300K was for East Saint Louis alone, or included the surrounding communities of Southwest Illinois. But even apart from the money, and how far it was or wasn’t spread, the low response rate there and in other places merits study. Aside from all of the speculations and assumptions that those of us who worked the Census have made, what are the reasons behind people’s behavior? Can we get a handle on that in the ten years till the next round?

  2. one anon Says:

    Have you ever been to East St. Louis – not Washington University campus – the run-down, inner city, poor part?

  3. anonymous Says:

    Of course, without the advertising campaign, the response would, most likely, have been much lower. So, did it fail? Or, did it just not succeed as much as we had hoped?

  4. Pablo S Says:

    @one anon…
    You mention East St. Louis’ “run-down, inner city, poor part.”
    What correlation do you believe there is between low response rate and a “run-down, inner city, poor part” of an area,.and why? Could be interesting.

    Also…anybody…is low response rate consistent with “run-down, inner city, poor part” in other parts of the country?

  5. Jo Says:

    If you look at the census return map (I don’t have the precise link), the return rate is pretty consistent with the socio-economic status of the particular neighborhood. I live in a large metro area and the neighborhood to the south of us, which is poorer than ours, had a response rate about 10% lower than ours. Another neighborhood to the northwest of ours, large single family homes, upper middle class, had a return rate about 10% higher than ours.

    And the 60+% return rate for the East St Louis community might be better than it would have been if no outreach had been done…. We will never know!!

  6. MotleyCrewLeader Says:

    If I may play devils advocate, because these are important issues to consider, some of the worst respondents where the Park Avenue elites whos buildings we could not get into. The Door Men would turn us away.

    Statistics plays a large part in all of this as its obvious you can not get or make everyone participate.

  7. Jake Says:

    “You can not get or make everyone participate”…I think you and I understand this concept but when do the Census Powers to Be run the cost numbers and see what it cost to get the numbers they got and then call it done?
    When this is all done I am insterested to see if they release what the Overall Cost per Initial Questionairre turned in was and what the NARFU Cost was per questionnaire.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Every LCO and the AA are unique…

    I have been working Vacant/Delete this July 4th Weekend – very hot and humid!

    Watching Headline News – SAVE THE HORSES! SAVE THE WHALES! (I’m a “lifetime” PETA member. :)

  9. Steve Jost Says:

    A very regrettable post for two major reasons. First, the post and the story overlook the data on our website which reveal that East St. Louis actually improved upon their 2000 participation rate by four points, 63% compared to 59%. The Complete Count Committee in the area has reason to be proud of their effort.

    Second, the $300,000 was spent by the local government, over and above the outreach effort of the U.S. Census Bureau. In truth, the story should be a about and effective national and local partnership. Congratulations to the residents of East St. Louis.

  10. Anon MO Says:

    I agree with Mr Jost that the Belleville News Democrat story and this posting miss the positive point which is that the participation rate went up in a traditionally HTC area like East St.Louis.

    But, the flipside of that is the fact that East St.Louis is historically a strong voter turnout area in almost every election i.e. people are engaged, $300K in the STL Market is a drop in the bucket when you consider that local judicial races spend $1Million or more, and coffee mugs and parades do not get people to fill out their forms – you have to go to the people. What East St.Louis and other “urban cities” experienced was the Bureau waiting for the people to come to them, as delivered by the local CCC’s, as opposed to actually going to their churches and neighborhoods to get them counted – literally going to the church with the forms on a sunday and helping people fill out the forms.

    The overreliance on the Census Bureau to handle all aspects of outreach is just asking for failure. Next time get the information you need from them, keep them in the loop on what your doing and plow ahead without them. Remember that their mission is based on outputs and not outcomes

  11. Crew Leader Says:

    @SRM: Are you getting desperate for blog material? This is a real snore. I guess blog material is getting thin as the CB winds down its field ops.

  12. anonymous Says:

    Thank you Stephen and MyTwoCensus Journalists for airing this story and presenting ALL sides.

  13. anonymous Says:

    by all you mean his

  14. anonymous Says:

    anon who posts the ‘presenting all sides’ comments all of the time… Can you show me one blog post that has shown something that the census has done well? Wouldn’t ‘all sides’ include the positive and the negative in the effort?

  15. one of the anonymous Says:

    Voter turnout? East St. Louis (and other high-crime, inner city voter precincts) has a problem with voter turnout. Registered voters must establish residence, not be a convicted felon, be an “active” voter in their precinct … you know this.

  16. Enumerate this Says:

    @Anon MO: Very thoughtful, well-written reply.

    Don’t do it again.

  17. Admin OOS Says:

    “by all you mean his” Brilliant and true.