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 ‘rural’

Census complicated in small towns

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Here’s a peek into rural America from mountvernonnews.com:

  • By Melissa Raines

  • June 11, 2010 10:33 am EDT

MOUNT VERNON — Some local residents have raised concerns about the way the 2010 Census is being administered. The constitution mandates a census be taken in this country every 10 years, counting every person living in the U.S. to determine representation in congress.

Some residents in the villages of Howard, Danville and Gambier have questioned why they never received their 2010 census forms in their mailboxes as they did in past census years.

“People were wondering why they didn’t get them,” said Howard resident Susan Rogers. Some residents said they thought they may have misplaced them, or that they were lost in the mail.

Rogers was one of several people who inquired at her local post office whether the forms had been delivered.

“I was told that they all came to the post office but they were all sent back because they didn’t have post office boxes on them,” Rogers said. “That’s a waste of taxpayer money.”

Residents in Danville and Gambier report they were told the same thing. A Knox County postal worker told the News as many as 90 percent of the forms received at the post office where he works were returned as “undeliverable” because they were not addressed with post office box numbers.

According to Kim Hunter, media team leader for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Detroit Region which includes Ohio, much of the Knox County area is classified by the census bureau as “update/leave” meaning forms are not mailed to homes but left at the door by an enumerator. The forms can then be mailed in or collected by a census employee.

Some residents interviewed by the News said their forms were left weeks ago at their doors in time to be returned by the April 16 deadline.

Malinda St. Clair of Martinsburg said her form was left at her door. “It was left a few weeks ago,” she said. Norma Simpson of Howard said hers was left as well.

Perhaps adding to the confusion, press releases the census bureau have released since April say residents with post office boxes will automatically have a visit to their home by enumerators to receive and complete their forms.

“Residents that normally pick up their mail from a post office box don’t receive a form in the mail but will be visited by a census taker beginning in May,” reads one release from April.

Michele Lowe, U.S. Census Bureau public information officer, referred to more information provided on the U.S. Census Bureau Web site while speaking by telephone to the News.

These releases repeatedly state that mail customers with post office boxes do not receive forms by mail, but instead receive a face-to-face visit.

An April 7 posting by the census bureau titled, “Some Reasons You’re Not Yet Receiving Your Census Form,” gives possible reasons for not receiving a form.

These include, “You have a post office box in a mailout/mailback area.” The reasoning given is that the census bureau does not mail to post office boxes. “The census is all about counting people where they live and sleep, so we must tie each form to a physical location. Post office boxes are not tied to specific housing units, so we can’t use them to send forms to specific housing units. One of our census workers will visit houses that rely on post office boxes between May 1 and July 10.”

Many of these households have already received a visit from an enumerator, which in some cases was unexpected. Several residents the News spoke with asked why they did not receive some kind of notice they would have an enumerator visit, and wouldn’t be receiving a form in the mail, which they would have preferred.

Jody Weiss of Gambier said she does not like to answer the door when she is not expecting anyone, especially when her husband is not home.

“How come I couldn’t just get the form in the mail and mail it back the way everyone else does,” Weiss asked.

Weiss said if she would have known she needed to call a toll-free number to request a form because she didn’t receive one at her P.O. box, she would have done so.

During a press conference last week, Dr. Robert Groves, director of the U. S. Census Bureaus spoke with journalists across the country via telephone, the Internet, and an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The News asked Groves if he felt the census bureau had done an adequate job of explaining to people in rural areas they would not receive their census forms mailed to their P.O. boxes, but would receive a visit from an enumerator.

‘’Looking back on the 2010 census, I think many of my colleagues and I agree that we could have done better at getting the word out to that population,” Groves said.

“It’s a tough message to get out because it’s scattered throughout the entire country, and there are people with postal boxes who are living next door to people who get their mail delivered there,” he continued.

“So how to get the message out in a non-confusing way is a challenge that we could have done better in 2010, I admit.”

The director explained the bureau’s policy of not mailing census forms to P.O. boxes. (more…)

Native Americans criticize Census Bureau’s ability to count them

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Here’s the story from KBPS.org, a radio station based in San Diego:

ROBERT SMITH (Tribal Chairman of Pala Indian Reservation): I think it’s going to be inaccurate because they don’t cross every ‘t’ or dot every ‘i’ on the reservations. We’re scattered, we’re remote. I think if they would communicate more with the tribe they would have a better count.

Photo of the day: Census form’s blowing in the wind

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Apologies for being MIA for the past 36 hours, but I was traveling and now I am back to MyTwoCensus work…Here’s a great photo:

2010 CENSUS— A faded bag with a census form hangs in front of a Talkeetna cabin. Enumerators now follow up and go door to door to count residents. Photo by Diana Haecker

A damaging report about the ability of the 2010 Census to fairly and accurately count people in rural areas

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Thanks to the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire for the following:

Rural Census Problems

Maryland enacts law to count incarcerated people at their home addresses

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The following comes from PrisonersOfTheCensus.org:

April 13, 2010 – Today, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill ensuring that incarcerated persons will be counted as residents of their home addresses when new state and local legislative districts are drawn in Maryland.

The U.S. Census counts incarcerated people as residents of the prison location. When state and local government bodies use Census counts to draw legislative districts, they unintentionally enhance the weight of a vote cast in districts that contain prisons at the expense of all other districts in the state. Maryland is the first state to pledge to collect the home addresses of incarcerated people and correct the data state-wide.

The new law will help Maryland correct past distortions in representation caused by counting incarcerated persons as residents of prisons, such as the following:

  • 18% of the population currently credited to House of Delegates District 2B (near Hagerstown) is actually incarcerated people from other parts of the state. In effect, by using uncorrected Census data to draw legislative districts, the legislature granted every group of 82 residents in this districts as much political influence as 100 residents of every other district.
  • In Somerset County, a large prison is 64% of the 1st County Commission District, giving each resident in that district 2.7 times as much influence as residents in other districts. Even more troubling is that by including the prison population as “residents” in county districts, the county has been unable to draw an effective majority-African American district and has had no African-American elected to county government, despite settlement of a vote dilution lawsuit in the 1980s.

The problem is national as well. One legislative district in New York includes 7% prisoners; a legislative district in Texas includes 12% prisoners; and 15% of one Montana district are prisoners imported from other parts of the state. Indeed, the 2010 Census will find five times as many people in prison as it did just three decades ago. To address this problem, eight other states have similar bills pending in the current session or being prepared for reintroduction in the next legislative session: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

“The Maryland legislature has taken a much-needed step to ensure fairness in redistricting and reflect incarcerated populations in a more accurate way. Maryland’s action should pave the way for other states to end the distortions caused by counting incarcerated persons in the wrong place,” said Peter Wagner, Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative.

“Maryland’s ‘No Representation without Population’ Act will bring the state’s redistricting practices in line with the rules Maryland uses for determining legal residence of incarcerated persons for other purposes. We applaud this common-sense solution to a growing problem of fairness in representation,” said Brenda Wright, Director of the Democracy Program at Demos.

The legislation, passed as H.B. 496 and S.B.400, applies only to redistricting and would not affect federal funding distributions.

The Prison Policy Initiative and Demos have a national project to end prison-based gerrymandering, seeking to change how the U.S. Census counts incarcerated people and how states and local governments use prison counts when drawing districts. The two groups provided technical assistance to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland and the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland who led this effort.

In addition, Mr. Wagner and Ms. Wright both testified in support of Maryland’s new law at legislative hearings this spring. Their testimony pointed out that HB496/SB400 has precedent in the practice of more than 100 rural counties around the country that currently revise the Census Bureau’s prison counts for internal districting purposes, and in the laws of states such as Kansas that adjust the Census for other purposes.

PPI and Demos long have advocated for the Census Bureau to change its practices so that incarcerated persons would be counted at their home residences on a nationwide basis. While it is too late for that change to be made for the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau’s recent decision to accelerate the release of its prison count data so that states can more readily identify prison populations in the Census will be helpful to states such as Maryland that wish to make their own adjustments.

PPI and Demos applaud the lead sponsors of the legislation, Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk and Senator Catherine Pugh, who deserve special credit for their leadership on this issue. Although both represent legislative districts that contain large prison populations currently counted as part of their districts, both recognized that the issue of fairness and accuracy in statewide redistricting should take precedence over individual concerns. PPI and Demos are also encouraged by the bi-partisan support for the bill including that of Republican Senators J. Lowell Stoltzfus and Donald F. Munson.

Let’s hope Eric Erickson’s dumb comments don’t inspire more people using shotguns near Census Bureau employees…

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

The following incident took place in March in Northern Idaho. MyTwoCensus.com believes that this incident should be considered more than a misdemeanor in the eye of the law, as it was directed at a federal employee who was working at the time. CNN commentator Eric Erickson’s heinous words mirror this incident in a strange yet shocking way.

H/t to the CDA Press for this:

A St. Maries man was cited for firing his shotgun near a U.S. Census worker who was trying to deliver the man his questionnaire in March.

Richard L. Powell, 54, faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for exhibition of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor offense.

The census worker alleges he was trying to deliver Powell the population-counting questionnaire on the afternoon of March 3, when Powell told the worker to get off his property at 396 Powell Road near St. Maries, according to the Benewah County Prosecutor’s Office.

Powell then went into his residence and returned with a shotgun, and fired the gun in the air, the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office said.

The census worker waited a few days before reporting the alleged crime to the sheriff’s office, and Powell was cited a week after the alleged incident.

Powell did not return a message left by The Press seeking comment Friday.

His pretrial conference is 9 a.m. April 26 at the Benewah County Courthouse.

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…)

Census Takers Begin Hand Delivering 2010 Census Questionnaires to 12 Million Addresses

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Census Bureau Press Release (to read it in its entirety, click HERE):

About 56,000 census workers today began hand delivering 2010 Census questionnaires to roughly 12 million addresses across the nation, mostly in rural areas where people do not receive mail at the same location as their residence. Most of nation’s 120 million households, about 90 percent of the U.S. population, should look for their 10-question forms to arrive by mail mid-March.

While the majority of areas covered by this operation are rural, the Census Bureau also is delivering forms to Gulf Coast areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to ensure everyone is included in the once-a-decade count. Census takers will deliver 2010 Census questionnaires directly to each residence in these areas, leaving a form packaged in a plastic bag at the home’s main door. Residents are encouraged to fill out and mail back their census forms — using the enclosed pre-paid envelope — as soon as possible.

“Regardless of whether your census form gets dropped off at your front door or you receive it within a few weeks in your mailbox, it’s important that you fill it out and mail it back as soon as possible,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “With only 10 questions, the 2010 Census should only take about 10 minutes to complete.”

In 2000, about 72 percent of the population mailed back their census forms — halting a three-decade decline in the national mail participation rate. Mailing back the forms save taxpayers money, as it reduces the number of census takers that must go door-to-door to follow up with households that failed to do so. The Census Bureau saves about $85 million in operational costs for every percentage point increase in the national mail response rate.

“It costs us just 42 cents in a postage paid envelope when households mail back their 2010 Census forms,” Groves said. “The Census Bureau will spend about $25 per person if we have to go out and knock on the doors of households that don’t mail them back.”

Your Tax Dollars At Work: The Census Bureau Is America’s New Favorite Charity

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Thanks to The Big Spring Herald in Big Spring, Texas for the following story:

Long: Census request ‘double taxing’

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

By THOMAS JENKINS
Staff Writer


Go back to the federal government and ask for funding.

That’s the message Howard County Commissioner Jimmie Long delivered to representatives of the 2010 Census Monday morning during the court’s meeting, following a request for a $5,000 donation to help fund the nationwide head count.

“Taxpayers have already been taxed to provide funding for the Census once,” said County Commissioner for Precinct 3 Jimmie Long. “That was done through our federal income tax. I feel like the government is trying to force our local residents to put pressure on the local entities to fund something that has already been funded. I agree that you need to have publicity, and they need to fund that. They need to consider that as a part of the cost.”

Charlene Romero McBride, partnership specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau, said the $5,000 is an investment in the community.

“Nationally, the 2010 Census will go ahead with a marketing plan. Unfortunately, it starts dwindling down for our smaller counties,” said McBride. “It doesn’t go to the radio stations, it doesn’t go to the newspapers. It provides us with some marketing items, but not a whole lot. I have 18 counties that I’m working with, and only the two largest counties in that area have their own funds, so I don’t do any of this with them.

“This is an investment in the community. What happens is you’re assisting the Complete Count Committee and help to get the word out. We go out and explain to people what the census does and how important it is. In the end, this helps your non-profit organizations, hospitals, police departments, fire departments… It all comes back to you by the numbers we get in the census.”

McBride said she’s not looking for a check from the commissioners now, just for the county to set aside the money in case it’s needed.

“We’re not saying that we want you to sign a check and give it to us. What we’re asking you to do is go ahead and set aside funds so once we start getting the promotional items we need, it just gets taken out of that (money),” said McBride. “So we might not use the whole amount. We’ve asked Coahoma to consider giving us $1,000, and we did receive $500 from Forsan last week. And we’re also going to ask the city to match whatever the county decides to do for the Complete Count Committee as well. Everyone is investing in this. Everyone is really going in and making sure we do provide the tools for the Complete Count Committee.”

Long, who chided the federal census for asking for funding alongside Precinct  2 Commissioner Jerry Kilgore, said he supports the effort, but feels like it needs to be funded solely by the federal government.

“I support the census,” said Long firmly. “But I don’t support the idea the taxpayers should be taxed again to pay for a census the federal government is already paid for. I’m just not for double-taxing. And I know you need funding for local advertising, and I think that’s when you have to go back to the federal government and tell them you have to have this additional funding.

“There’s a strain on us, and I realize it’s not a lot of money. However, if we keep doing that, from step to step… before we know it we’ve spent $100,000, and I just don’t feel like the taxpayers need to pay double on that.”

McBride reminded the court the census was already adding jobs to the Howard County workforce — albeit temporary jobs — and that incomplete information could spell disaster for area agencies looking to receive grants.

“A big part of what is really funded for census goes for the jobs it creates,” said McBride. “And it creates a lot of jobs in your area. So it is creating jobs and money for your area, as well. And when it comes to the promotional part… the investment can be made by the community.

“The value of this is when you start counting everyone in your community, those are the numbers that your hospitals and non-profit organizations — anyone that is developing a grant — use for those things. It helps your community out a lot.”

According to Long, those complaints from local grant-seekers have yet to come.

“None of those organizations that depend upon the census for their grant writing have gone to their local entities — not to this court since I’ve been on it — and said they are having trouble getting grant money because we don’t have a good census,” said Long.

The court declined to take any action on the matter. The Big Spring City Council, which McBride told county officials plans to follow their lead in the matter, is expected to discuss a possible donation to the 2010 Census this evening during its regular meeting.

Troubles in Rural America

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

By Reynolds Farley, Ph.D.

I worked as a crew leader for address canvassing from March 23 to May 7. Reflecting the economy, five of the 18 members of my crew had post bachelor’s degrees. Several had given up lower-paying jobs to canvass for the Census Bureau. All had been told that they would have six to eight weeks of work. Canvassing took place from April 17 through May 6.

Our area was a rural one with numerous lakes and isolated homesteads not visible from unpaved roads. In many places, dirt roads lacked names, homes lacked numbers and residents claimed that the post office did not deliver their mail. The vehicles of three canvassers became stuck in mud. Maps on the hand-held computers bore no more than a remote relationship to what we found. Quite often we came upon an array of a dozen or two mailboxes sitting side-by-side at the end of a dirt lane. Some had numbers, some did not. Then there would be a dozen or two homes scattered about a lake, an estuary or a river front. Matching numbers with residences was extremely time consuming, if possible.

Address canvassing went well from April 17 through May 1. Our local census office was located in a suburban area adjoining a major metropolis. Officials there appeared to be unfamiliar with canvassing in a remote rural area. We were told that our district was the only one in the local census office not completed by the week-end of May 2.

Rather than letting us work for another week to finish the job competently, canvassers from urban areas were sent to our area in great numbers and at considerable cost. There appeared to be no interest at all in quality control. The emphasis was solely upon completing the canvassing before an arbitrary deadline.

The canvassers who started with this crew believed they would be employed for six to eight weeks worked three weeks at most. I suspect that the very many new canvassers who were sent in to complete the area had little, if any, familiarity with the rural area where we worked.For my entire career, I have used U.S. Census data in my teaching and research. The area we canvassed is one in which no address list could be complete and accurate. The canvassers working with me were serious and cautious. Two-thirds of the area was competently canvassed. One-third of the 29,000 address lines were canvassed in extreme haste implying that several hundred housing units may not receive a questionnaire when they are mailed next March 17. I hope that this emphasis upon speed rather than quality was a rare happening.

I had the good fortune of working with many excellent an dedicated canvassers in this brief period and a very competent Field Operations Supervision. I am, however, less sure about the dedication of some higher level local census office administrators to the important issues of minimizing undercount in the 2010 Census by getting an excellent address list.

Dr. Reynolds Farley is Professor Emeritus at the Population Studies Center and Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan, where he served as Chairman of the Sociology Department. Dr. Farley’s research interests concern population trends in the United States, focusing on racial differences, ethnicity, and urban structure. A recognized leader among social scientists who study race relations in the United States, Reynolds Farley is among the top echelon of social demographers, a leading authority on the demography of African Americans, and a penetrating and creative analyst of racial and ethnic relations over the past 40 years. His pioneering studies of the causes and implications of massive and continuing racial segregation have enlightened the national discourse on social policies concerning families, welfare, health and education. His current work includes an investigation of the residential consequences of revitalization in the Rust Belt. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and first worked for the Census Bureau in 1962.

The Smoking Gun Report from the Inspector General’s Office

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

We urge all of our readers  to take a close look at the Inspector General’s most recent reports about the 2010 Census (located here: Observations and Address Listers’ Reports Provide Serious Indications That Important Address Canvassing Procedures Are Not Being Follow—OIG-19636-01 [PDF] Report). This report details many significant failures of the Census Bureau’s recent address canvassing operations that were brushed aside by Acting Census Director Tom Mesenbourg at today’s 2010 Census hearing in Philadelphia. Here are the major problems discussed in the report:

During address canvassing field observations, we found that some Census listers were not
consistently following the procedures in their instruction manual. In several cases we observed
listers skipping the procedure for knocking on doors. In at least one case a crew leader ignored
portions of the verbatim training and instead instructed listers to omit this procedure. We
received several additional reports from listers who were specifically told by their crew leader to
omit this procedure. Further, we observed listers map-spotting addresses from their cars when
they were instructed to collect a map spot at or near the main entrance of a structure—usually the front door.

Despite instructions to traverse every road in an assignment area, some listers we observed
completely skipped roads in rural areas when they assumed no houses existed on the road.
Address canvassing in rural areas can be difficult as tree cover and other conditions can visually
obscure structures. Road conditions also can pose significant challenges: for example, rough
terrain may necessitate four-wheel-drive vehicles, and some roads may only lead to fields or
barns, or may dead-end at a physical feature such as a river. Nonetheless, canvassing these areas is essential to accurately locate rural living quarters.

OIG staff observed address canvassing in 15 different locales in 5 of the 12 Census regions. We
identified the failure of listers to conform to address listing and map-spotting procedures in 7
different locales representing all 5 regions. We also received independent information on the
same problems for 2 locales not associated with our sample. Although our observations were not conducted on a statistically drawn sample and therefore cannot be considered representative of the entire operation, the widespread nature of the problem is noteworthy.

A number of factors may be contributing to this breakdown in procedures. Skipping procedures
reduces the time it takes to conduct address canvassing. We have received reports from Census
field staff that they are under intense pressure to complete their assignments within a limited
time frame and to minimize or avoid overtime. Some are concerned they may face termination if they miss deadlines or work unauthorized overtime. Production pressure may therefore be one cause for this breakdown, but Census needs to determine why these problems are occurring.

Failure to follow procedures negatively impacts the quality of the address list, map spots, and the subsequent enumeration. Living quarters that are not included on the address list have a greater probability of not receiving a decennial questionnaire and thus not having their residents counted. Address canvassing is the primary means for identifying “hidden” dwellings, such as sheds and makeshift garage apartments, but the likelihood of missing such living quarters increases if the lister does not attempt the required personal contact. Because of smaller populations, missing a single living quarters in a rural area has a greater impact on the quality of final census population counts.

Failure of listers to correctly use the handheld’s GPS capability—a key component of Census’s
nearly $800 million field data collection automation contract—jeopardizes Census’s ability to
ensure that living quarters are recorded within the correct census block. This accuracy is
particularly important for redrawing congressional and state legislative districts.

The Census is depending on its address canvassing quality control operation to identify and correct errors resulting from listers’ not following procedures. We are therefore expanding the number and breadth of our field observations to focus on this quality control operation, particularly in rural areas. Given the problems we have identified, we are concerned that Census has not completed its contingency plan for improving list quality in the event that the results of address canvassing are found to be deficient.

These shortcuts have cost impacts as well. Quality control operations may take longer to
complete and cost more than anticipated since improperly listed addresses that are identified or
deleted must be recanvassed. Inaccurate map spots can increase the time it takes for enumerators to find their assignments during enumeration and nonresponse follow-up operations and add to their chances of getting lost and enumerating the wrong housing unit or group quarters.

Inaccurately located rural living quarters may have a greater cost impact on subsequent census
operations, as locating and driving to these potentially remote units requires greater effort than
doing so in urban or suburban areas.

Note: We have added a new permanent link on the right side of this site that will take you to the Inspector General’s most recent reviews of Census Bureau activities.

Updated Post: Census Bureau fails to hire residents of Calhoun County, South Carolina

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

UPDATED POST:

Stacy Gimble, a Public Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau, provided an update to our original story:

In following up with our Charlotte Regional office, we have confirmed that
the Census Bureau has actually hired 16 people from Calhoun County to work
in Calhoun County in our address listing operation.

Two additional applicants are being trained as possible replacements in
Calhoun County.  This is a standard procedure in case anyone currently on
the job cannot fulfill his/her duties for any reason.  This brings the
total number of census workers hired in Calhoun County to 18.

Also, the Times and Democrat has agreed to run another story tomorrow,
correcting this information.

Original Post:

Today, the South Carolina Times and Democrat reported that none of Calhoun County’s 15,000+ residents were selected to work for the U.S. Census Bureau for the 2010 Census, even though 140,000 Americans have already taken to the streets to start the Bureau’s initial address verification process. This is an interesting development, because we now have evidence that the Census Bureau has taken their hiring errors to both extremes by failing to hire people from large swaths of land in rural counties while also not hiring qualified people in urban areas who live outside of artificial neighborhood boundaries within municipalities.

Note: We have sent inquiries to four different Census Bureau officials in Washington asking them to explain why Calhoun County’s residents have been neglected from employment. The only justification for not hiring workers from Calhoun County would be if not a single individual passed the Census Bureau’s exams, which, generally are passed by some 40% of applicants.

Here’s the scoop from the Times and Democrat:

ST. MATTHEWS – Complaining of poor communication from the U.S. Census Bureau, Calhoun County officials are particularly peeved that not a single local resident has been hired by the federal agency to help with the 2010 count.

County Administrator Lee Prickett said Monday that, although the county had provided a location for the federal workers to train census taker applicants, “we didn’t see any local people being hired.”

Prickett expressed his concern to Philip LaRoche of Charleston, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, who was on the county council agenda to provide a census update.

LaRoche said the process for hiring census workers is strictly “recruit, test and hire.” Noting that Calhoun County is covered by the Columbia office, he said, “I won’t challenge the test scores for the people” who tested from Calhoun County.

A representative from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce, who was on hand to monitor LaRoche, said her office is the one that looks into complaints and asks the questions that raise awareness. She suggested trying the “very helpful” hot-line link at www.oig.doc.gov.

“I don’t know if there are specific complaints, but people have been inquiring about the process,” Prickett said.

After the session, Prickett noted he didn’t realize no locals had been hired until the training started in space the county had provided. Some local residents did apply and take the test, he said, although no figures were available.

Asked if special skills were required, Prickett said some computer literacy would be necessary, since canvassers carry handheld computers.

Elaine Golden, the county’s 911 coordinator, said the unidentified woman her office contacted about the census “wasn’t very cooperative and was not polite to people who contacted her about positions.” And, there were “confusing stories” given about why local people were not hired, she said.

“I hope we get more cooperation,” said Golden, who also complained the county hasn’t even been notified that address canvassers for the census have already started working in the county. “There’s been a lack of cooperation with the census, so far … When do we meet the supervisor of the address representatives out there now?”

LaRoche, who Golden acknowledged had been trying to help solve the county’s problem, said he’ll contact the Columbia office for field operations, which is different from his Charleston-based partnership and operations office.

“We do want to work with them and help them out,” Golden said.

In the end, as requested by LaRoche, council approved a partnership with the U.S. Census. It’s a “symbolic but important” step to get everyone counted, he said.