Please Don't Hurt The Census Enume-Ray-tor

The Census 2010 was supposed to be like a category 5 storm, where every single resident was going to be sucked up in a flurry of… um… tabulations. Instead, in parts of Southern Brooklyn and Sheepshead Bay, it barely touched ground with participation rates as low as 44 percent in some tracts.

What are the reasons that the census forms were not sent back? Readers, feel free to write in and add to this list:

  • many people are suspicious of the government
  • some truly did not know much about what the census is
  • the census doesn’t have much importance in the minds of those who didn’t send it back
  • some households wanted to stimulate the economy by getting those census funds spent on workers knocking on doors
  • since the census forms that came in the mail neglected to mention the  deadline date (April 16, 2010), many didn’t know that the deadline was upon them
  • many did not know that if they sent their form in even after the deadline, they may still be counted, possibly eliminating the need for a census enumerator might to be sent to their home
  • residents were surprised to learn that the census form required them to put their name on the form, and felt this to be an invasion of their privacy
  • some are too hip or too frum to be filling out forms or using snail mail, even if postage was not necessary.

To help rally in some more households in Southern Brooklyn, yours truly has been called into the enumerator brigade. It’s not as if I’m looking forward to barking dogs, doors in my face, communication difficulties, braving the elements, or serious dangers of approaching strangers (especially ones with guns) – but I’m thankful to be a federal worker, even if it is for a just a couple of weeks.

When the census office called me in to see if I was available to work, one of the questions on the script went something like this: How would you recommend for the Census to get the word out? I told the worker that they can reach out to bloggers. So here I am doing my part.

Although the deadline date for mailing in forms passed, it’s still not too late to encourage everyone to cooperate with census workers. The nose you slam the door on might be mine (so long as you don’t break my nose with said door, I’m ‘Sworn for Life’ to keep your information confidential, it’s all just between me and the census officials).

For those of you who are still not convinced that the census is important, try getting some demographic information to determine your market or try convincing your councilman that your non-profit needs this many dollars to serve your particular group of people. Sorry, but if they are not counted in the census, they don’t exist.

Such numbers come in handy for a myriad of other reasons. Some say the most important function of the census is helping to allot political representation, but if you’ve ever been in the need for information about population and racial and ethnic makeup of a particular neighborhood (e.g., for a blog post, as statistics in a college paper, or just for convincing your friends that you live in a diverse neighborhood), but couldn’t find the supporting information, then you know the practical validity of an accurate census.

For those of you who are now intrigued and want to learn more about the census research, you can try visiting the Census 2010 site or the Center for Urban Research site to start on your quest for population knowledge. In the meantime, count on me to count you up!


Sign in or become a Bklyner member to join the conversation.