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 the ‘Minorities’ Category

Advance Letter Trouble In St. Louis: Cities and Zip Codes Mixed and Mangled

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Below are important highlights from an article on STLToday.com:

Advance letters from the U.S. Census Bureau are causing confusion in parts of the St. Louis area that share common ZIP codes.

But census officials said Tuesday that residents and municipal leaders shouldn’t be worried, the information will be correct on the forms, which are set to start arriving Monday.

The one-page notes that residents received this week say the census forms are coming. The notes are part of an $85 million mailing effort to encourage the sending back of the forms. But some of the letters listed incorrect city names, prompting residents and officials to worry about the accuracy of the count.

After the official census forms arrive, reminder postcards will be sent to areas with low responses, said Shelly Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Census Bureau’s national office.

Some residents of O’Fallon and St. Peters received letters with the correct address and ZIP code, but the wrong city name — Cottleville. Cottleville residents are served by some of the same ZIP codes.

Drabelle said the city received at least 20 calls from residents who were concerned about the city name error.

Lisa Bedian, a spokeswoman for St. Peters, reported a similar number of calls. Part of St. Peters borders Cottleville, she said, but some of the residents who called about their letters lived several miles from the border.

“People are worried about whether St. Peters is going to get credit for this,” Bedian said.

She said the city was asking residents to call if they received an incorrect city name on their letters. She said that residents need not leave their names, but that the city was collecting addresses to get a sense of where the letters were sent.

In St. Louis County, some Maryland Heights residents received letters addressed to Hazelwood. The city’s website told residents they would be counted as living in Maryland Heights. Sara Berry, a city spokeswoman, said the city had received a handful of calls.

“We’re trying to get the word out as best we can and let people know to go ahead and fill out their forms,” she said.

Dennis Johnson, a spokesman with the regional office in Kansas City, said an outside contractor prepared the letters using postal data. The city name on the letter will have no effect on the official census form, he said. Johnson said the official census forms had a bar code with information about exactly where the residence was situated. He said the Census Bureau had been working with city and county officials to make sure addresses were accurate.
“It’s not going to affect the population count,” Johnson said. “They will be tabulated properly for each jurisdiction.”

Scott Hanson, city planner in Edwardsville, said his city had had technicians review data from the census to make sure it included recently annexed properties. “We’re keeping a close eye on that,” he said.

The letters generated controversy in 2000, too. That year, they included return envelopes for those who wanted to receive census forms in another language, but no English explanation was printed on the envelope.

Accused Murderer Implements the “Census Defense”

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

This is about as weird as it gets in 2010 Censusville…The following comes from the Associated Press:

By GREG BLUESTEIN (AP) – 22 hours ago

ATLANTA — A Georgia man accused of killing two people used an innovative legal strategy Monday in an attempt to get his murder charges dismissed. Call it the Census defense.

Floyd Wayne Williams Jr. wants the charges dropped — or at least his trial delayed — until the 2010 Census is done so that a jury more accurately reflecting the county’s racial makeup can be chosen. Williams, who is black, is to be tried in the south Atlanta’s Clayton County, which has seen a surge in African-American residents since the 2000 Census.

Jury pools in Clayton County, like many other jurisdictions, are drawn from voter registration lists, driver’s license data and utility records. The list is then balanced by race and gender from the Census to reflect a cross-section of the population.

Williams, 31, argued his constitutional rights will be violated if he is tried by a jury drawn from the 2000 Census, when the black population was 50.6 percent, instead of 2007, when the number had swelled to 64.5 percent.

There has been an increase in attorneys using a jury’s racial makeup as a defense argument, in particular as Hispanic and black populations in parts of the country have swelled since the 2000 Census, said Jeffrey Abramson, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law who has written a book about the role of juries.

The U.S. Supreme Court could soon decide whether a Michigan man’s murder convictions should have been tossed out because there were too few black residents in a county’s jury pool. Diapolis Smith, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury for shooting a man in Grand Rapids in 1991.

“It does seem to be a systemic problem nationwide, because it’s difficult updating the list and also because the courts are reluctant to fault the existing lists,” Abramson said.

The challenges like Williams’ are difficult to win, though, he said.

“There’s just a sense that we do the best we can, that it would be difficult to find a list that is more representative,” Abramson said.

Williams’ case has been drawn out since he was charged in 2002 with fatally shooting 48-year-old Alejandro Javier Gutierrez-Martinez and Jose Simon Arias, who was 16 months old, during a 2001 home invasion.

State prosecutors soon announced they would seek the death penalty, but before the trial started Williams escaped the county jail in 2003. He was caught in Baltimore and is currently in jail in Georgia.

At a hearing Monday, Williams’ attorneys contended that Clayton County should either use the 2007 population estimate or wait until the 2010 Census is completed. (more…)

Washington Post: Muslims Wary Of Census Participation

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The following piece from The Washington Post reiterates a position that MyTwoCensus.com has expressed for quite some time now, because as recently as 2004, confidential data from the decennial census was handed over to federal law enforcement officials:

By Tara Bahrampour

Tuesday, March 9, 2010; 4:02 PM

The millions of blue forms being mailed this month in the first census count since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, do not ask about religion. But the idea of answering any questions posed by the government makes some Muslims uneasy, so community leaders are worried that many may avoid the Census altogether.

“A lot of people, they have the concern,” said Raja Mahmood, 50, a Manassas taxi driver who moved to the United States from Pakistan 25 years ago. “The majority of Muslims, they don’t want to draw attention.”

Although he plans to fill out the census form — and the Falls Church mosque he attends, Dar Al-Hijrah, has encouraged it — Mahmood said many Muslims he knows are wary about why the government, which treated them with suspicion in the years after the terrorist strike, wants to collect information about them.

“They can look for the count of how many people live here, and that’s a good thing,” he said, “but God knows what is in their heart.”

Muslim leaders have been holding forums to explain the process. Last week, the Justice Department said that information-gathering and sharing provisions of the Patriot Act do not override federal confidentiality laws related to the Census, with stiff penalties for sharing information about an individual.

“That would go a long way toward calming fears,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Still, community leaders say they understand why people might be cautious. Many remember the trepidation that arose after 9/11, when men from some Muslim countries were required to register with the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service. The requirement led to deportations for visa violations or minor infractions unrelated to terrorism, Hooper said, adding that “whole neighborhoods were emptied.”

(more…)

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Conclusive Evidence That Burmese Translations For 2010 Census Are Wrong!

Monday, March 8th, 2010

UPDATE: The Census Bureau conducted business in early 2009 with an outside consulting firm to evaluate the accuracy of 2010 Census forms in four languages (Chinese, Russian, Korean, and Vietnamese). Additionally, here is some further evidence of problems from an external report (available in full HERE):

Errors were discovered in the Vietnamese-language materials, including the sample
Vietnamese Census Form.  The Bureau had been inconsistent in their word choice for “census,”
using both “điều tra” and “thống kê” interchangeably.  For the Vietnamese community, “điều
tra” or “government investigation” carries a negative connotation because it is associated with
the communist regime.  While the Bureau recently fixed the online form, it is uncertain whether
the corrections will appear in the printed census forms.

In February, after being tipped off about translation errors on the Census Bureau’s foreign language forms, MyTwoCensus set out to conduct an investigation into Diplomatic Language Services, the firm that was contracted to conduct all translations for the 2010 Census. Our Freedom Of Information Act request has not yet been answered, so we started to contact leading foreign language scholars to translate forms for us and judge the quality of translations.

One minority group that will suffer terribly because of poor translations is America’s Burmese community. Though there isn’t much reliable data on the Burmese-American community, a cursory read of the group’s Wikipedia entry reveals that “According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 16,720 persons of Burmese descent resided in the United States. That number is estimated to have risen to at least 50,000 today because of the large number of Burmese people seeking political asylum.”

Regarding the Burmese translation (available HERE), Julian Wheatley, who serves as the President of the Burma Studies Foundation and works in the Department of Foreign Languages & Literature at MIT told us,  “There are some usage problems, which probably arose because the original translator stuck too close to the English. More obvious, one paragraph has been repeated. Towards the end, well into the second page, you’ll see the phrase (2010 Census) in parentheses. Above it is a small three line paragraph, and the two longer paragraphs above that — you’ll see them — are identical (one in bold, one normal). Presumably that is not as intended.”

This investigation is ongoing. If you or anyone you know has noticed poor language translations on a 2010 Census form, we encourage you to contact us with specific information.

Politico: Republicans sign on to bill targeting RNC mailers

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

H/t to Ben Smith and the folks over at Politico:

Two House Republicans have signed on to legislation that would outlaw fundraising mailings that could be confused with official Census documents.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, was inspired by a Republican National Committee mailing that describes itself on its envelope as an “official document” and a “census document.”

The mailing has drawn bipartisan criticism, but Republican operatives say it’s long been a lucrative fundraising tool for the RNC, which has defended it.

But in what may be a mark of the difficult relationship between the RNC and the Hill, Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz have signed onto the legislation, which doesn’t mention the RNC mailer specifically, but would bar the use of the word “census” on the outside of envelopes delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

Spokespeople for Issa and Chaffetz didn’t respond to inquiries about their co-sponsorship of the legislation, which has 19 total sponsors and is being marked up this morning.

UPDATE: Chaffetz did discuss the issue at a recent hearing: “Let me also say publicly that the Republican National Committee – I’m a Republican – sent out a so-called census across the country. I think that was wrong. I don’t think we should necessarily mandate or put in statute that you shouldn’t use the word ‘census,’ but I think it was deceiving at best. And I wish my party had not done that,” he said. “I would encourage others to not try to piggyback and take advantage of the word ‘census’ at a time that we’re trying to encourage participation. And I thought it was used as an enticement to open an envelope, and I wish they hadn’t done it. But I want to be fair on both sides and stand on principle. So I want to say that.”

House of Representatives Passes “Census Awareness Month” Bill

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

UPDATE: This resolution passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (I swear, I’m not making this up, and I am quite happy at this moment!) – a rarity these days. Ron Paul was the only Nay (No) vote, and Rob Bishop of Utah, still bitter about Utah falling just short of obtaining an extra Congressional seat in 2000 and the Census Bureau’s refusal to count missionaries who are abroad for extended periods of time, voted present. The remaining 409 Members of the House of Representatives who were in attendance today all voted Aye (Yes) to support the resolution. The final amended resolution can be found here: HR1046

Well, we’re already 10% finished with this month, but March 2010 is now Census Awareness Month according to the United States House of Representatives. The resolution, which had 62 sponsors, passed this afternoon. Here’s the text of the resolution – which has since been amended to clear up statistical debates and other issues that didn’t please both parties (new final version coming soon):

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. RES. 1096

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 23, 2010

Mr. REYES (for himself, Mr. ORTIZ, Mr. GRIJALVA, Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas, Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. AL GREEN of Texas, Mrs. NAPOLITANO, Mr. BACA, Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. SIRES, Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN, Mr. BUTTERFIELD, Mr. CLEAVER, Ms. CLARKE, Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas, Mr. CLAY, Mr. HINOJOSA, Ms. BORDALLO, Mr. SALAZAR, Mr. CUELLAR, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Ms. RICHARDSON, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. CHAFFETZ, Ms. WATSON, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. HONDA, Mr. MEEKS of New York, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Ms. NORTON, Ms. MCCOLLUM, Mr. MCHENRY, Ms. MATSUI, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. BISHOP of Georgia, Ms. CHU, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mrs. DAVIS of California, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida, Mrs. LOWEY, Mr. RODRIGUEZ, Mr. PALLONE, Mr. CAO, and Ms. WOOLSEY) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform


RESOLUTION

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

Whereas the Constitution requires an actual enumeration of the population every 10 years;

Whereas an accurate census count is vital to the well-being of communities in the United States by helping planners determine where to locate schools, daycare centers, roads and public transportation, hospitals, housing, and other essential facilities;

Whereas businesses in the United States use census data to support new investments and growth;

Whereas census data ensure fair Federal, State, and local representation in the United States and help determine the composition of voting districts at each level;

Whereas census data directly affect how more than $400,000,000,000 in Federal and State funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, etc.;

Whereas census data help identify changes in a community and are crucial for the distribution of adequate services to a growing population;

Whereas the 2000 Census determined the United States had a total population of 281,421,906 and current estimates project the population has grown to 308,573,696;

Whereas the 2010 Census is fast, safe, and easy to complete, with just 10 questions, and requiring only about 10 minutes;

Whereas the 2010 Census data are strictly confidential and Federal law prevents the information from being shared with any entity;

Whereas the data obtained from the census are protected under United States privacy laws, cannot be disclosed for 72 years, or used against any person by any Government agency or court;

Whereas neighborhoods with large populations of low-income and minority residents are especially at risk of being undercounted in the 2010 Census;

Whereas, in the 2000 Census count, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans were most likely to be undercounted;

Whereas it is estimated that over 16,000,000 people were not counted in the 2000 Census resulting in a decreased share of Federal funding for those undercounted communities; and

Whereas the month of March 2010 would be an appropriate month to designate as Census Awareness Month: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
    • (1) encourages individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010;
    • (2) urges State, local, county, and tribal governments, as well as other organizations to emphasize the importance of the 2010 Census and actively encourages all individuals to participate; and
    • (3) supports the designation of Census Awareness Month.

Encouraging News From Michelle Bachmann: She’s On Board With The 2010 Census

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

From TheHill.com (click for complete story):

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last year said she was not going to fill out her census form, intends to vote for a measure this week that encourages Americans to participate in the 2010 census.

According to an aide in Bachmann’s office, the North Star State lawmaker intends to vote for a “census awareness” measure on Wednesday.

The resolution, offered by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), implores “individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month,” according to a description of the measure.

With no category of their own, Caribbeans need many boxes to ID race, ethnicity on US Census

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The following story comes to us from the LA Times/Associated Press and echoes sentiments that have been expressed on this site for nearly a year. It is completely unfair to the people of Caribbean nations that they have no box to tick off. This lack of options will surely create a mess in identifying the actual origins and backgrounds of some two million Americans:

Jean-Robert Lafortune

Jean-Robert Lafortune, chairman of the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition for Miami, poses for photos Friday,, Feb. 19, 2010 in Miami. He feels there should be more selections for Haitian Americans to identify themselves on the census forms other than Afro-American or Negro. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) (J Pat Carter, AP / February 19, 2010)

JENNIFER KAY Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Identify yourself as being of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin” on the 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire, and you will get to be more specific about your ancestry, such as Mexican-American, Cuban or Puerto Rican.

But check the box for “black, African-American or Negro” and there will be no place to show whether you trace your identity to the African continent, a Caribbean island or a pre-Civil War plantation.

Some Caribbean-American leaders are urging their communities to write their nationalities on the line under “some other race” on the forms arriving in mailboxes next month, along with checking the racial categories they feel identify them best.

It’s another step in the evolution of the Census, which has moved well beyond general categories like “black” and “white” to allow people to identify themselves as multi-racial, and, in some cases, by national origin.

The wording of the questions for race and ethnicity changes with almost every Census, making room for the people who say, “I don’t see how I fit in exactly,” Census Bureau director Robert Groves told reporters in December. “This will always keep changing in this country as it becomes more and more diverse.”

In another push tied to the 2010 Census, advocates are urging indigenous immigrants from Mexico and Central America to write in groups such as Maya, Nahua or Mixtec so the Census Bureau can tally them for the first time.

The campaign in the multiethnic Caribbean community reflects a tendency, born from multiple waves of migration, to establish identity first by country, then by race.

“We are completely undercounted because there isn’t an accurate way of self-identifying for people from the Caribbean,” said Felicia Persaud, chairwoman of CaribID 2010, a New York-based campaign to get a category on the census form for Caribbean-Americans or West Indians.

About 2.4 percent of the U.S. population — more than 6.8 million people — identified on the 2000 Census as belonging to two or more races. A little less than 1 percent of the population — more than 1.8 million people — wrote in their West Indian ancestry.

And about 874,000 people — or 0.3 percent of the population — ticked boxes for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders that year. If those islanders could get their own categories on the form, Caribbean-American leaders say, why not their communities?

Their lobbying efforts led to a bill in Congress requiring a box to indicate Caribbean descent on the census form, but it did not pass.

Census Bureau Official says Senator Schumer Was Misled: The Truth About Census Jobs

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
MyTwoCensus has received a contribution from a Census Bureau official (verified to make sure this person is for real but with her full anonymity protected) that will serve as a response to our recent story from Indiana:
Several weeks ago, I was in a test session where an applicant told me that he heard about the census from an announcement by Senator Chuck Schumer on the nightly news.  The Senator said the work would pay pretty well and go anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. The applicant was nonetheless shocked when I handed him this piece of paper which said that the test he took was for work lasting only one to three weeks…(SEE ABOVE DOCUMENT)

As there is much confusion, I thought I’d write this letter to clarify some misconceptions. The first myth is the census will begin hiring in early 2010 which has some truth to it. There will be several smaller operations and a small number of office positions but the number of jobs is neglible (less than 5%).
The majority of jobs will be in May 2010 for the Non-Response Followup operation where enumerators will knock on people’s doors and ask them to fill out a questionnaire. The second myth is that the jobs last anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. According to this sheet of paper, it will last up to three weeks.   In fact the embarrassing part is no one really knows how long the job will last.
However from November 2009 to April 2010 the Census Bureau is on a mission to recruit tens of thousands of people based upon a model they will need five applicants for every one position:
* because one person will decline the position (doubt it, the unemployment rate is in double digits)
* one won’t show up to training (doubt that will happen for god’s sake the unemployment has been the worst in any census in a half a century)
* one won’t complete training or pass the test (they assume the applicant pool is inherently dumb which isn’t true because of the high caliber of applicants in the recession)
* and one will quit the first week (ok that might happen if you don’t like getting the door slammed in your face)
Based on my experience I can tell you we have had very high test scores, few job refusals and high retention of staff. If this continues it will result in many people not getting hired. The Census Bureau is wasting money recruiting all these people for a small number of jobs. It needs to rethink this ridiculous model because as we all know they already made the startling admission that their cost estimation models are completely inadequate  (just look at address canvassing and group quarters validation).
Most areas are already meeting their recruiting goals but we have trouble recruiting in more affluent neighborhoods of New York. In typical census fashion when goals aren’t being met they throw bodies at it and hope it improves. They hire recruiting assistants (RAs) based off a test score and ask yes/no questions during the interview. You answer yes to all the questions you get the job. Every week they hire more recruiting and partnership assistants. There is no organization, they just ask you to take a whole bunch of brochures and cards and give them out in the hopes you will get people to take the test.
Everyone has the same ideas: visit church groups, public housing, non-profit organizations so there is duplication of work. When the recruiting goals aren’t being met RCC intimidates and offers little constructive help. There are regional technicians who just go around and tell us we’re not recruiting enough people…(especially this short Asian guy with a Napoleon complex and some guy who snoozes during meetings). They don’t seem to understand that no one wants to take a test for the possibility of a job a few months from now, lasting only one-three weeks for $18.75 an hour which barely pays the exorbitant rents of $3,500 a month. More test sessions are scheduled and more clerks are hired but the phones don’t ring anymore than they did last week. Judging by the way they do recruiting you think this is the first time they are doing this. But they’ve been doing this since the first census in 1790. (okay maybe they didn’t have to recruit workers on horseback but it seems like an amateur operation).

The Census Bureau needs some innovation here:

* track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying
* commission or compensation linked to performance
* targeted media ads in local newspapers (which I have yet to see)
* get the Census road tour vehicle out there or have recruiting assistants tranform their cars into promotional vehicles
* reaching out to business improvement districts and unemployment agencies to advertise their jobs

Track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying…And while they are at it someone should reevaluate this model which I know is wrong. They need to stop throwing needless money away to recruit people who won’t even get called. The model is get as many bodies to take the test, offer a small percentage of them jobs and tell them it will last eight weeks. Then headquarters realizes there isn’t any work, other areas are working faster and they are running out of money.
In order to save themselves embarrassment they will rush the operation because the quicker they finish the better they look and the less money they have to spend. Get the hopes up of thousands of unemployed Americans who need work to put food on the table. Rinse and repeat.
So if anyone is listening to me. We don’t need more people, we just need better workers, better leadership and a more realistic recruiting model. Perhaps this recruiting speech might be more fit:
Hi I’m a recruiting assistant with the United States Census Bureau. We’re offering jobs in your community, as an RA I can’t tell you how long the jobs will last. The jobs may last eight weeks, but will probably be more like one to three weeks. I actually don’t know because our leaders at Census Bureau headquarters don’t know either. I do know you will need to take a basic skills test in reading comprehension, math skills and reasoning. However if you don’t get a perfect score and you’re not a veteran you may not get hired. On a lasting note you will make good money for a few weeks, then headquarters will realize they overestimated the workload, over staffed the operation and are running out of money. To make themselves look good they will probably tell you to work faster, do a haphazard job or risk being terminated. Are you still interested in a job?

House of Reps. Committee To Probe Census in “Hard To Reach” Communities

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

From Radio Business Report:

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is planning to probe whether the word about the 2010 Census is being effectively delivered in certain “hard-to-reach” areas.

The hearing, entitled “The 2010 Census Communications Contract: The Media Plan In Hard To Count Areas” will be heard by the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and National Archives. The date is 2/24/10 at 2PM eastern.

The subcommittee is chaired by William Lacy Clay (D-MO), with Patrick McHenry (R-NC) serving as Ranking Member.

Seattle fortune cookies hold census message

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

From the Seattle Times:

The U.S. Census has launched a unique way of urging people to be counted: Tsue Chong Co. of Seattle is inserting five different messages urging census participation into 2 million fortune cookies being shipped to restaurants and groceries across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Census Bureau is partnering with Tsue Chong Co. to create fortune cookies with a message about the upcoming count.

Enlarge this photoDEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The Census Bureau is partnering with Tsue Chong Co. to create fortune cookies with a message about the upcoming count.

Sporting caps promoting the U.S. census, visitors to Thursday's fortune-cookie rollout watch the cookies being made, then have a taste. Tsue Chong Co. is inserting five different census messages into 2 million cookies

Enlarge this photoDEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Sporting caps promoting the U.S. census, visitors to Thursday’s fortune-cookie rollout watch the cookies being made, then have a taste. Tsue Chong Co. is inserting five different census messages into 2 million cookies

Next time you crack open a fortune cookie, check the flip side. The federal government may have a message for you.

Tsue Chong Co., a fortune-cookie factory in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, is inserting five different census messages into 2 million cookies being shipped to restaurants and groceries across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Like the usual predictions of wealth, fame and long life you’ll find on one side, the census missives on the opposite side are a bit … well … banal.

“Put down your chopsticks and get involved in Census 2010,” reads one message. “Real Fortune is being heard,” reads another.

It’s all part of a broader effort by the Census Bureau to spread the word about the upcoming population count on April 1. The nation’s 112 million households will begin receiving forms in the mail beginning in late March.

The decennial count helps allocate more than $400 billion a year in federal funds to state and local governments for programs such as public housing, highways and schools.

Census results help determine political boundaries as well as the number of representatives each state will send to Congress. Because Washington’s population has steadily grown, the state could pick up a 10th congressional seat after this year’s count.

There’s great financial motivation: Each uncounted person means a loss of about $1,400 in federal money per year, according to the Census Bureau.

Bessie Fan, co-owner of the family-run cookie and noodle factory, Tsue Chong, called it a “great thrill to partner with the census for such an important effort.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Now Is The Time To Print The 2010 Census Form In Creole

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Back on July 30, 2009, we published an article titled “Trouble in Florida for Haitians” detailing the problem of the Census Bureau’s choice not to use Creole as one of the 27 languages other than English that will appear on 2010 Census forms. In the wake of last month’s earthquake, and with an influx of refugees pouring into the United States (and Florida in particular), this decision now appears less intelligent than ever. MyTwoCensus.com is also surprised that the mainstream media has failed to pick up on this, and we urge media outlets to report this story. Are there a million Creole speakers in America? 1.5 million? More? This is an example of yet another community getting the shaft based on poor planning…but the Census Bureau still has time to act and create a creole language 2010 Census form as well as an ad campaign targeting creole-speakers. To the Census Bureau officials reading this: Please take our advice, and start this process ASAP!

From blogout.justout.com: Queering the Census, one sticker at a time…

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The 2010 United States Census, set to be disseminated in March or April, does not include questions of sexual or gender orientation. As the census helps to define the makeup of communities – and guides decisions about things like healthcare and public safety – some activists are calling for the LGBT community to become visible in this landmark study.

CREDO Action has partnered with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to offer one solution – a free sticker that LGBT people and their straight allies can stick on their census envelope. The organizations hope that this hot pink statement of presence will result in the inclusion of a tally of LGBT people in the next census.

Want to get counted? Get your free sticker and use it to seal the back of your census envelope before mailing the national survey back.

Metro West Daily News: Comic book pitches census to Brazilians

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Census comic staring Brazilian characters Ze Brazil and Tiao Mineiro
By Julia Spitz/Daily News staff
Posted Feb 10, 2010 @ 12:45 AM

Census officials hope a little humor will lead to an accurate headcount.

“2010 Census: The Adventures of Ze Brasil & Tiao Mineiro,” a comic book in Portuguese, is part of a Boston Regional Census Center initiative to let Brazilian immigrants know about the importance of the national census conducted every 10 years.

Local Portuguese-language newspapers and magazines will distribute comic books in Framingham and Marlborough next week, then again next month. Churches with predominantly Brazilian congregations will also distribute the 16-page publication.

“We are trying to reach everyone,” said Alexandra Barker, U.S. Census media specialist.

Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are familiar figures to readers of Bay State Brazilian newspapers. Boston-based cartoonist Daniel Nocera launched the series featuring the two illegal immigrants living in Massachusetts in 2005.

The comic strip, which is carried in The Metropolitan Brazilian News and A Noticia weekly papers in New England, as well as The Brazilian News in London and The Brasil News in Toronto, puts a humorous spin on struggles the pair face due to their inability to speak English and lack of documentation.

Using situations such as not knowing when to get off a T train or dealing with an unscrupulous landlord, Nocera said he tries to depict reality but also make readers laugh and think.

“I believe many Brazilians will identify themselves with my characters,” he said.

The census-themed booklet is an extension of the comic strips that “use a mild sense of humor and creativity as tools for getting the messages out.

“There are three short stories and three games, all involving the main census messages: It’s easy, it’s important and it’s confidential,” said Nocera, who was named best Brazilian cartoonist living outside Brazil in 2008 and 2009. In the booklet, Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are visited by a census worker, and talk about things that can be improved, such as schools and hospitals, based on an accurate census count.

“This comic book is an important tool for our outreach efforts to this hard-to-count population, which is the largest foreign-born community in the Boston region,” said Barker.

“We want to be culturally sensitive, not too bureaucratic,” she said.

The Scope Of An Advertising/Marketing Flop…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The Nielsen Ratings are crap. Seriously. These ratings are the results of an antiquated system that relies on statistics from 5,000 Americans to represent more than 300,000,000 Americans. However, YouTube has provided many, many, statistics for the common man (not just the stat-heads over at Census Bureau’s HQ in Suitland, Maryland). So, let us delve into the US Census Bureau’s YouTube channel to see just how few people have watched the ads that have been created for the 2010 Census:

Thus far, the Census Bureau has posted 63 YouTube videos for the 2010 Census. The first video (the boringly iconic “Portrait of America” clip) was posted 10 months ago and the most recent addition (a hip-hop music video geared toward young urbanites)  was posted two days ago. The Portrait of America video has just over 6,500 hits…which would sound pretty pathetic for a 10 month campaign if only it wasn’t revealed that the other six videos posted 10 months ago each received between 347 and 1,305 hits. In the series of videos posted 6 months ago, the most widely-watched video, about the address-canvassing operations, has been viewed a measly 1,083 times. (This means that only a tiny fraction of the workers involved in this process even watched the video…)

Sadly, Census Director Robert M. Groves has not become the YouTube phenom he wished to be, as his four-part panel discussion and swearing in ceremony clips received only 264, 124, 92, 120, and 285 views respectively (over the course of 6 months!!!). If Dr. Groves were trying to make it on network TV, he would have been canned lightyears before Conan…

And most pathetic are the efforts of the Census Bureau to reach out to minority communities…Video testimonials by members of minority communities that were posted 5 months ago have received between 33 and 258 views…and the majority of these videos have been viewed less than 100 times each! Even if the Census Bureau’s own employees who are representing the minority groups (partnership specialists) had viewed their own videos, there should be more views than what is represented on YouTube!

Final Analysis from an untrained marketing expert: As of February 8, 2010, this ad campaign is a colossal failure!

USA Today: Glitches Hamper 2010 Count

Friday, February 5th, 2010

We’re really wondering who at the Census Bureau is responsible for the below problems…because he or she should be fired immediately…MyTwoCensus.com will soon be investigating who was responsible for this language foible….see the following report from USA Today:

By Haya El Nasser

The words dieu tra jumped out at Quyen Vuong as she perused the 2010 Vietnamese-language Census form online.

“It’s a very scary connotation in the sense that there is a crime and the government needs to investigate,” says Vuong, a member of two Census outreach committees in California‘s Santa Clara County and executive director of the International Children Assistance Network.

The words the Census Bureau used to refer to its upcoming population count evoke chilling memories for Vietnamese immigrants who escaped a Communist regime. Vuong alerted the Census Bureau, and Director Robert Groves told her that online Census materials were being changed and would use the more neutral thong ke (tally) to refer to the count. It’s too late, however, to edit preprinted forms.

Vuong says the government should launch a media campaign to acknowledge the mistake and apologize.

Despite an unprecedented $340 million promotion that includes $130 million for ads in 28 languages (including Tagalog, Yiddish, Khmer, and Urdu), user guides in 59 languages and the Census questionnaire itself in six — English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese — glitches and gripes surround the Census effort:

• The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund last week reported widespread problems in Asian communities, from mistranslations to insufficient staffing in local Census offices.

“We don’t want to be too critical, but no one had a chance to preview the language guides, the advertising campaign,” says Glenn Magpantay, director of the Democracy Program at AALDEF. Concerns over privacy and confidentiality continue, he says.

• The National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents about 200 black community newspapers, is angry that the Census Bureau is spending only $2.5 million on ads in black media.

“We think they’re about $10 million short,” says Danny Bakewell, chairman of the group. “They’re setting it up for us to have the greatest undercount in the history of America. If this happens, it will devastate our community for the next 10 years at least.”

The number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on Census counts every 10 years. The tally also helps to redraw political districts and determine the allocation of more than $400 billion a year in federal money to states and cities.

• Korean-American groups want to see more Census spending in their community. “We heard that there was so much money out there for Census outreach, but I don’t see a dollar,” says Young Sun Song, a community organizer for the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center in Chicago.

• In Texas, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund complains that the state has not formed a complete-count committee to encourage response to the 2010 Census forms that will land in mailboxes next month.

The Super Bowl Ad: The Census Bureau Responds To MyTwoCensus Questions

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com has received a fair share of e-mails from Americans who are all asking the same question: Why did the Census Bureau choose to purchase a multimillion dollar Super Bowl advertisement? Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner has responded to this and other related questions below:

Questions from Stephen Robert Morse, Founder/Editor of MyTwoCensus.com: Whose idea was it to air an ad for the Census Bureau during the Super Bowl? Who chose Christopher Guest as the director of the ad? Who chose which specific ad or ads will run? Which ad or ads will run? Were there ever focus groups to see how effective the ads were? If so, where and when did these focus groups take place? What were the results of these studies?

Answers from Stephen Buckner, Assistant Division Chief, Decennial Programs, Public Information Office:

The essential challenge for the Census is that because it happens only once
every ten years, many U.S. residents are unaware of when it happens (in
March) and how they participate (by mail).  Our own research in late 2009
showed less than 10% of Americans surveyed correctly answered that the 2010
Census occurred in March.  

The first goal of our promotion efforts is to
raise awareness of the when and how the Census works.  We have a very
limited window of opportunity to achieve our goals Jan – April, and
therefore need programming that delivers high ratings.   The 2000 Census
paid advertising campaign also had a Super Bowl ad for just this reason.

The Super Bowl is the top-rated and most highly anticipated television
event in the U.S.  An ad running once in the Super Bowl has the potential
to reach 45% adults over age 18.  For comparison, CSI which is one of the
top rated programs on television delivers a 6.6 rating with adults, which
is a fraction of the reach of the Super Bowl.   A 30 second spot on the
top-rated regularly scheduled show in America, American Idol costs $450,000
and has a 9.5 rating, or just 9.5% of adults are watching.   The Super Bowl
reaches 100 million viewers at a very efficient price compared to other
shows.

 The Super Bowl is rare, in that viewers are just as tuned in to see the
commercials as the program itself.  Commercials that air on the Super Bowl
have a multiplier effect.  Advertisers are mentioned in multiple news media
outlets and viewers will typically look to view them online almost
immediately after airing.  Therefore, airing once in the Super Bowl creates
significant buzz leading to additional viewing potential.

Our media buy with CBS consists of (1) 30 second ad in the 3rd Quarter.
CBS provided added value in the form of (2) more 30 second ads in the
pre-game show and an additional (2-3) 12-second vignettes featuring James
Brown delivering a message on behalf of the Census.  We believe the message
delivered by James Brown who is the host of the day, will carry great
weight with viewers.

We did not choose the Super Bowl itself for an ad, or at the expense of
some other programming.  We went where the audience was to be found, and
CBS put the Super Bowl into their proposal for all Census ad dollars, along
with the NCAA finals and other high profile programming.  NBC similarly
offered us special programming for advertising during the Olympics.

We did conduct focus groups and other research for all of our paid
advertising concepts in 2009, including the concept of a “Snap Shot of 300
million Americans” which became the ads being directed by Christopher
Guest.  They tested very positively.  We conducted a total of 115 focus
groups in 37 markets cities across the United States for all our
advertising, television, radio, print, digital and out door.

The first ad in the series is currently airing and will also air during the
Super Bowl pre-game. A new will air during the game, but if we told you
what it was all about, it would spoil all the suspense.  While we reply on
the professional expertise and advice of our expert advertising
contractors, the Census Bureau is responsible for these ads and their
placement.

Finally, Super Bowl advertisers see a significant lift in internet searches
which is a great opportunity for Census to drive traffic to 2010census.gov
to further educate viewers on the Census.

Census News Roundup…

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The story: FoxNews has claimed that Democrats in Ohio are may rig the 2010 Census.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: We urge readers to proceed with caution, as this article is filled with the kind of “Gotcha!” fluff that has made FoxNews so famous. However, FoxNews continues to serve an important role in keeping Democratic administrations on their toes…so we’ll watch this one for a bit.

The Story: Hatian immigrants moving permanently to Florida en masse could positively affect the Sunshine State’s headcount.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Yup. This is likely. But how many grieving newly arrived Hatians make time for the 2010 Census as their first priority when upon landing in the US?

The Story:  Apparently, the Census Bureau is having trouble finding workers in West Texas.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Even if West Texas has a low unemployment rate unlike the rest of the nation, there are still many unemployed and competent people out there. The Census Bureau recruiters in this area should be fired because clearly they are incapable of doing their jobs.

The Story: A 2010 Census meeting in Monroe, Louisiana draws sparse attendance.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: The Census Bureau did a great job getting the MEDIA and POLITICIANS to attend an event, but not the PEOPLE. Clearly there is a disconnect here. Will this be indicative of a low number of people returning their Census forms?

San Francisco Public Press: Census methods could provide lift to hidden homeless

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

The following article comes to us from the San Francisco Public Press, a worthy non-profit that is trying to revive the journalism industry in the City by the Bay (full article here):

By TJ Johnston

The 2010 Census could help address one of the thorniest problems in dealing with San Francisco’s long-standing homeless problem — getting an accurate head count.

The city’s homeless figures have ranged between about 6,500 and 8,600 people in the last decade, but the real number is anybody’s guess. The sketchy knowledge of who is living on the street has been a big impediment to perennial attempts to solve the crisis.

Temporary census workers will spend three days at the end of March interviewing homeless people at their usual gathering places, including shelters, soup kitchens, parks and highway underpasses. The census workers will ask questions similar to those asked of people who do not reply to questionnaires delivered to households.

The official number of homeless people in the city matters because it can potentially affect the number of representatives for state and federal legislative because they’re drawn based on population. It also impacts federal, state and city grants for social service programs for the homeless.

Part of the problem has been that for each count, the methodology changes, and so does number of workers and time dedicated to the count. These tallies have been conducted by the city and an array of private nonprofit service and advocacy groups, each with its own political agenda and definitions of homelessness.

Politicians and advocacy groups have also been known to use different numbers depending on the audience. And no one in the government is quite sure of the real number.

“Part of it has to do with conflicts between academic estimates of the homeless population and community and activist estimates,” said Chris Bettinger, who teaches sociology at San Francisco State University.

Bettinger said the Census Bureau, which has only been including homeless people in its counts since 1980, could not guarantee that this year’s numbers will be definitive, or even better than other methods. The advantages are that the counting of the homeless across the country will be somewhat standardized and conducted by paid staff, not volunteers.

Poll finds that Hispanics lack knowledge about census

Friday, January 29th, 2010

A recent Pew survey found that the Census Bureau has a ways to go in educating the public about the census, and new data from Ipsos and Telemundo shows that the problem is particularly acute among Hispanics.

AdWeek has more on the new survey:

The survey found that the proportion of those who have never heard of the Census is slightly higher among Hispanics than it is among the U.S. population at large (18 percent vs. 11 percent). And the proportion of those who have heard of it but know nothing more about it is also higher among Hispanics than it is among the total U.S. population (31 percent vs. 23 percent).

The survey found that only half of Hispanics know either “a little” or “a lot” about the Census (52 percent), compared with two-thirds among the U.S. public at large (65 percent).

That said, most of the Hispanics polled indicated they believed the Census was important, with 84 percent agreeing that they and their families intend to be counted.