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.

Posts Tagged ‘hard to count’

How much does it cost to count each person if a plane is needed for counting?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves has said that it costs $25 to track someone down who hasn’t returned his/her 2010 Census form. But what if you need a plane to reach that person? Presumably this cost skyrockets when people in extraordinarily remote areas need to be counted. Perhaps statistical sampling should be used to count such people. H/t to the Associated Press for the following:

By CLARKE CANFIELD, Associated Press Writer – Sun Mar 21, 1:24 pm ET

PORTLAND, Maine – Census workers are using snowmobiles, airplanes, all-terrain vehicles — even lobster boats — to visit the most far-flung, hidden-away dwellings when counting the nation’s populace.

Hand-delivering 2010 census questionnaires in the bush of Alaska,Maine’s North Woods and other isolated regions isn’t as simple as strolling up a front walk to a suburban home. To get to the more remote homes, census workers might fly over mountains or onto far-removed islands, four-wheel it through forests and contend with deep snow, bone-chilling temperatures and wildlife on the move.

In Maine, census workers will begin delivering forms this week by whatever means it takes — ATV, snowmobile, cross-country skis or snowshoes — to get to those hard-to-get-to places.

“You don’t now what you’re going to find,” said Danielle Forino, who will use her ATV to get to hunting, fishing and logging camps in the wilds of far northern Maine. “And I definitely anticipate coming across a lot of wildlife; the bears are coming out so we have that to look forward to. And I’m not sure if the people will want to be bothered, but hopefully they’ll be cooperative.”

One woman rode horseback to get to homes for the 2000 census, said Rick Theriault, manager of the Census Bureau’s Bangor office for this year’s census. In Alaska, dog sleds are used.

“We do whatever it takes to get the job done,” Theriault said.

In all, 10-question census forms are being delivered to 134 million residences in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Census forms were mailed last week to 90 percent of the homes, about 120 million of them. Census workers are visiting the other 10 percent in person to deliver the forms in areas that don’t have regular mail service or “city-style” addresses to receive mail.

But only two places — much of Alaska and Maine’s North Woods — have been designated by the Census Bureau as requiring special travel arrangements to reach remote locations.

Those rural and sparsely populated areas, which contain less than 1 percent of all U.S. households, have irregular mail service and often cannot be reached by car.

Those people, like everybody else, still have to be counted.

Census officials in January kicked off the start of Census 2010 in one of those remote communities, the Inupiat Eskimo village of Noorvik, Alaska. To reach Noorvik, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves and other census officials flew to the village and then rode by dog sled to a local school for a launch ceremony.

Often, it’s the weather conditions — extreme cold, high winds, blizzards — that make the going tough. (more…)

Spot.us & MyTwoCensus.com Team Up…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

As an independent journalist, I am aware of how difficult it can be to earn money from reporting, as newspapers and magazines continue to hit new financial lows. Fortunately, sites like Spot.us are using innovative methods to finance journalism. I recently volunteered as a peer review editor to assist journalist Denise Poon who is writing stories about the 2010 Census for Spot.us. The following two stories, about multi-racial reporting and hard-to-count communities in California, are the the products of this collaboration:

The Census on Multiracial IDs

The Census Search for Hard To Count Communities

Using Dora The Explorer To Reach A Hard To Count Demographic

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

When we’re talking about hard-to-count groups in Census-land, we oftentimes forget one shocking statistic: Many people who have a child under the age of five in their household simply forget to list that child (or children) on their census forms. The Census Bureau is trying to combat this by partnering with Nickelodeon television show Dora The Explorer to spread the 2010 Census message. However, with less than one week before Americans start to receive their 2010 Census forms in the mail, we wonder if this initiative could have been timed to get the word out with more advance notice?

On a semi-related note, see the below chart:

Census Bureau Director to Launch Children Awareness Campaign Featuring
Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer

What: U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves and key partners will
hold a press conference to launch a 2010 Census public awareness
campaign, Children Count Too, about the importance of counting
infants and young children on census forms. In support of this
initiative, Census Bureau partner Nickelodeon will debut a new
television spot featuring Dora the Explorer, the popular
children’s character on the network’s award-winning animated
preschool series. The briefing will include a media
question-and-answer session.

When: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
10 a.m. (EST)

Who: Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau
Samantha Maltin, senior vice president of integrated marketing
and partnerships, Nickelodeon
Michael Laracy, director of policy reform and advocacy, Annie E.
Casey Foundation
William O’Hare, senior consultant, Annie E. Casey Foundation
Chris Perille, vice president of corporate communications and
public affairs, Mead
Johnson Nutrition
Maria Gomez, president, Mary’s Center

Where: Mary’s Center
2355 Ontario Road, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Census News Round-Up: Call Center Hiring, Census Forms Being Distributed, Groves Testifies In Washington About 2010 Census Jobs, New York Undercount?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

1. From the Atanta Journal-Constitution: Ryla is hiring 1,400 people in Georgia to work at call centers from April-August, presumably for the Census Bureau’s non-response follow-up operations.

2. From the Terry Haute, Indiana Tribune Star: 2010 Census materials are already being distributed in hard-to-count areas of Indiana.

3. From Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post:

A majority of the roughly 1.2 million temporary jobs created by the U.S. Census Bureau this year will be created in the late spring, agency Director Robert Groves said Tuesday.

Groves told a Senate subcommittee that 600,000 to 700,000 census takers will be hired from May through early July to visit individual households that fail to return census forms. Some workers currently employed in temporary positions are expected to reapply for new positions and get hired, he said.

“We over-recruited, clearly underestimating the labor market,” Groves said, acknowledging that the nation’s employment situation provided the Census Bureau with a wealth of eager applicants who, according to an agency statement, showed up for training at a much higher rate than they did during the 2000 Census.

4. The venerable New York Times reports that, “The city and the Census Bureau hope to avoid a repeat of the 1990 census, when the city challenged the count and the bureau acknowledged that it missed more than 240,000 New Yorkers.”

Cash Cuts May Cost California Billions

Friday, November 20th, 2009

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

By Marissa Lagos

(11-16) 04:00 PST Sacramento

California has slashed the amount of money it will spend on the 2010 census, a move that experts warn could lead to a flawed count and cost the state billions in federal aid over the next decade.

Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau – which recognized early that states wouldn’t have as much cash on hand – is redoubling its efforts. For example, in 2000, 18 census outreach workers were dedicated to the Bay Area; this year, the bureau assigned 160.

The U.S. government hands out about $400 billion to states and local jurisdictions every year based on population counts made during the nation’s decennial census. The money pays for local hospitals, schools, public housing, highways and unemployment insurance.

While the federal government pays census workers to take counts, states and local governments spend money on census outreach efforts to stress to residents – particularly those who may be wary – the importance of the census.

But because of deep budget cuts in the 2009-10 California spending plan, the state has earmarked less than $2 million for 2010 census outreach, down from nearly $25 million a decade ago. The cut in state census outreach funds is a problem that federal officials said is playing out across the country.

In California, the cut means many counties, which 10 years ago received grants from the state for outreach in addition to using their own money, will get little or no state funding for 2010 census outreach. Some counties struggling with their own fiscal problems also have cut local funding for census outreach.

Undercounts costly

Sonny Le, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said outreach is critical to ensure residents fill out the census forms that will be delivered to every home in the United States in March. Many people don’t understand the reason for filling out the form, while others are reticent to share information with the federal government.

Each uncounted resident could result in the loss of $1,000 a year in federal funding for a state, according to the nonprofit Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees.

Ted Wang, a census consultant working for the group, said state and local outreach efforts play a critical role in communicating with populations that historically have been difficult to count.

An undercount also could cost California a congressional seat for the first time in its 150-year history, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

In 2000, 70 percent of the U.S. census forms that were sent out in California were returned – though only 58 percent were expected, said Eric Alborg, a spokesman for the California Complete Count Committee, a group formed by the governor in June to oversee the state’s census outreach.

Even with a higher-than-anticipated rate of response, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar (Los Angeles County), estimated that California lost $2 billion to $3 billion in federal funding over the past decade because some people were not counted.

“If this year is a bad count, how many more billions could we lose?” Fuentes said.

The governor’s office defended the cuts as necessary and pointed out that in 2000 – at the height of the dot-com boom – the state was flush with cash.

‘Hard to count’ groups

“Given the breadth of the recession and the toll on state revenues, we had to make cutbacks in virtually every area,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, who added that state officials recognize the importance of the count. “We’re pleased we are able to commit resources for outreach efforts to reach individuals that are hard to count.”

California is home to 10 of the nation’s 50 counties with the largest “hard to count” populations, which include people of color, young adults, immigrants and low-income residents. Alameda and San Francisco counties are among the 10 counties, topped by Los Angeles County.

People harder to find

Further compounding the challenge is the economic and political climate, experts said. The financial crisis, including the waves of foreclosures, has forced people into homelessness or nontraditional housing, making them hard to find.

Officials said some immigrant populations are expected to be even more wary of the count than usual because of an uptick in immigration raids and anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent years – including an attempt by several Republican U.S. senators to exclude undocumented residents from the count and require respondents to disclose their immigration status. The amendment was defeated, but sponsor David Vitter, R-La., has vowed to raise the issue again.

To make up for the cut in state census funds, the state is working closely with elected, religious, nonprofit, community and educational leaders to develop plans to reach out to residents and get accurate counts via the California Complete Count Committee.

The state is also developing a Web site that will offer tool kits in census outreach to community partners.

Meanwhile, some local jurisdictions are trying to bridge the gap left by state cuts. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties ponied up money in their budgets to fund local efforts. For the first time, San Francisco created a “complete count committee,” which includes community, business, labor and nonprofit leaders to help with outreach.

Still, serious challenges lie ahead, says Adrienne Pon, who is leading San Francisco’s efforts.

“There are no (state) funds this time around, and populations are more dispersed and diverse … (so) we’re trying to be more street smart and direct outreach mobilization efforts,” she said. The largely African American Bayview-Hunters Point “had the lowest rate of return in 2000. We know of eight neighborhoods like that one which we are targeting.”

WSJ: Census Turns To Kids For Help

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Click HERE for full article from the Wall Street Journal

By Miriam Jordan:

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting a new set of volunteers: kids.

Seeking to ensure strong participation in the decennial population count, especially in so-called hard-to-count neighborhoods, the bureau has decided children are key.

That has led it to settings like Arlene Paynes’s first-grade class at Union Avenue Elementary School in this immigrant enclave on the edge of downtown. Last Thursday, the class gathered to read aloud a story titled “Who Counts?”

They learned about a boy named Joey who helps his grandmother, an Italian immigrant, fill out the Census form that arrives in the mail. The grandmother and grandchild decide that those who “count” in their household are Grandma, Mom, Dad, Joey, little sister Mary — and even Mr. Macintosh, who occupies a spare room “until he finds a job.” The only one who doesn’t count: their cat Clover.

It is always a struggle to get everyone to participate, but the 2010 count is expected to present new challenges. The gloomy economy has forced many people to move or seek temporary residence with friends or family, making them harder to reach. And the U.S. is still absorbing the largest wave of immigrants since the beginning of the 20th century. Many aren’t native English speakers; more than 10 million are here illegally.

The bureau is rolling out initiatives here and in other hard-to-reach tracts. It is running an information campaign in Spanish-language media, sending representatives to operate booths at street fairs and distributing forms in more languages than ever.

Early next year, households nationwide will begin receiving a form with 10 questions. It’s shorter than in the past, according to Census officials, and should take only 10 minutes to complete.

“Making children part of the national conversation,” said Renee Jefferson-Copland, chief of the school program at the Census Bureau, might be one of the most effective tools for reaching many adults.

Cali Gets Boo$t From Endowment

Friday, August 28th, 2009

California’s task of counting all of its citizens just became a wee bit easier. Thanks to the California Endowment, an additional $4 million has been added to the pot of the deficit-stricken state:

LOS ANGELES – (Business Wire) To ensure that every Californian is counted in the 2010 U.S. Census, the state’s largest, private health foundation today announced that it will make $4 million in grants towards a statewide campaign that will promote the importance of participating in the Census, particularly in the large number of “hard to count” communities throughout the state.

“Hard to count” populations are among California’s most vulnerable residents – low-income communities and communities of color.

The federal government makes funding allocations based on population counts from the Census, and for every resident not counted, the state will lose an estimated $11,500 in federal funding over the course of 10 years according to 2009 data from the Brookings Institution.

“At a time when the state is facing declining revenues, it is critical to the people of California that we ensure every resident is counted so we don’t lose out on federal funding essential to the health and well-being of all Californians,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment.

“If 10 percent of California’s population of 37 million is not counted, the state stands to lose $42.4 billion in federal funding over the next decade,” Ross added.

About one-third of that funding is directly tied to health services, while all of the funding is tied to individual and family well-being which, in turn, is a significant component of health status.

California is home to 10 of the 50 counties in the nation that have been identified as being the hardest to count: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Fresno, Riverside, Alameda, Sacramento, Kern and San Francisco. These counties are home to large populations that have been historically underrepresented in the Census, including immigrants, people of color, low-income communities, rural areas and those who live in multi-family housing.

Editorial: Those hard to count Jews…not!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

censusfloatisraelparade

Last week, MyTwoCensus criticized the Census Bureau’s lack of a parade float in San Francisco’s annual Carnaval parade, a celebration of Central American, South American, and Caribbean cultures. Thanks to the above photo, submitted to us by Sharon Udasin, ace New York-based reporter for The Jewish Week, MyTwoCensus now knows that the Census Bureau does in fact have the resources and capabilities to create such a float.  The float depicted above was paraded through the streets of Manhattan during yesterday’s Salute to Israel parade, a celebration of 61 years of Israeli independence.

Whereas many Latino/a immigrants are considered “hard to reach” because of their questionable legal status in America, this isn’t a problem amongst the Jewish and Israeli communities in New York. Even though New York’s thousands of Hasidic Jews (mostly living in Brooklyn) may speak Yiddish in their homes, nearly all of them speak fluent English and are citizens of the United States.

This begs the question: Why did the Census Bureau choose to sponsor a large float in the Israeli Independence Day parade in New York but not at the Carnaval parade in San Francisco?

To our readers: If you have been to any public events that have featured public relations efforts by the Census Bureau, please feel free to comment and share with us what you witnessed.