Though 90 percent of respondents said the census was very or somewhat important, the survey underscored the public’s lack of knowledge about the decennial count. Only 31 percent knew census participation is required by law. Answers about the census’ purpose fared somewhat better: 59 percent knew that the census is used to appropriate government funds and 64 percent knew the census determines congressional representation.
The first stage of the ad campaign will focus on awareness and the Bureau has spent much time touting its outreach efforts — with nonprofits, minority groups and others. But it’s now evident that awareness about the census isn’t enough (84 percent of survey participants had heard of the census, and a full 92 percent were familiar with it after hearing a description) — education must be a key part of the marketing plans.
Perhaps owing to this lack of education, the poll also found that 18 percent of those surveyed may not participate in the 2010 Census. Ten percent said they might not fill out the form, 6 percent said they definitely or probably would not and 2 percent said they were unsure. Top reasons for not participating included a lack of interest or knowledge and a distrust of government.
Readers, what do you think: What’s the best way to educate the public about the cenus?