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

21

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:

    Bklyner reporting is supported by our subscribers and:
  • 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!

Never miss the day's stories!

This story is free to read thanks to the generous support from readers like you. To support independent local journalism and keep local news free, become a member!

Advertisement
Comment policy

21 COMMENTS

  1. I'm still waiting for the census form to arrive… I called the number on their web site and they asked for your census number, which I don't know, and their directions for finding it are to check the form… the one I don't have. Gotta' love the government!

  2. Well, I think that woman is a loon, but not for the obvious reasons. I have to say, until a few weeks ago I was convinced everyone ought to fill out the census in full. I've recently begun wondering whether some of the questions really are invasive, and I definitely defend people's right to leave them blank (but filling out the # of ppl in household, I think, should be mandatory).

    The reason is this: I thought they needed that info to understand district's needs. An African American's needs are different than a Latinos which are different than a Caucasians (according to the logic behind those questions). But, and maybe I'm being cynical, I think that information is more often abused – especially in regards to redistricting. So I have to wonder if the benefits outweigh the abuses, or vice versa.

    I'm on the fence about it, so I'd love to hear others' opinions.

  3. Ned: but Ray answered your question in the post itself.
    If there are no Latinos in the district, there is no need for Spanish-language materials; there is no need for funds to educate African-American men about risk and symptoms of stroke (of which they have much higher rate of occurrence compared to whites), if there are no African-American men in the neighborhood, and so on.
    So it seems to me that the benefits of answering the question outweigh the drawbacks.

    As for Rep. Bachmann, everyone should encourage her supporters to follow her advice and discard the Census forms – this way her Congress seat will be eliminated through redistricting and I can save the money I would otherwise have to donate to her opponent…

  4. The ethnicity questions bothered me. Had they been more specific, as they were in the past, I wouldn't have thought as much about it. I remember filling out at one time the information that I am of Swedish, German, Shinnecock and English ancestry. (I think that was in 1980) This was done, I believe, to keep track of general patterns of population migration. The generalizing done now certainly does seems suspect, are we still trying to even the playing fields for certain groups? I thought creating congressional districts that would have concentrated populations was ruled unconstitutional.

  5. Hmm, maybe they don't like you. But that's their lack of good taste. Kevin Walsh of Forgotten NY also did not receive a census form. He was quite miffed.

    I got a second form on April 5. I mailed mine on the 2nd. What I don't understand is why the cover letter seemed to imply that one was to complete and mail the form before the 1st of April. The information is supposed to be what is true as of the 1st of April. Suppose I had gotten trampled by a giant armadillo on March 31?

  6. The bottom line here is that the Census is mandated in the Constitution, so everyone who lives in the United States should be aware of the requirement to count the population! If they are not aware, well back to elementary school with them. And I don't want to hear about newcomers to this country being unaware, because they should know our rules if they want to live here!

  7. @Brightonresident: I'm sorry, who said anything about newcomers?

    Usually, it is the other way around – case in point, see the CBS article Lisanne linked to above.

    I attribute this to the fact that to become a naturalized citizen one has to pass a Civics and English proficiency tests, while people born here don't have to pass anything.

    EDIT: Of course, I agree with you on a Constitutional mandate and elementary school remedy.

  8. Not to cause any trouble here, but that logic doesn't always fly straight. Who's to instantly say Latinos and Hispanics can't read American English? Also going by broad definitions who's to know what ethnicity who is which based off a general questionaire. I mean I see they've become a little more diversified with the inclusion of Dominicans and others now, but what about Asians? If a neighborhood ha s alarge population of Asians, are they going to start mailing out leaflets in Chinese or Japanese… and offend the Vietnamese, Koreans, Loatians, Filipinos and etc. in response. Hell, I usually check off Asian and Caucasian, but sometimes I'll check Other just to confuse them.

  9. OK, you are right, my post made it look like Latinos don't read English. I certainly didn't want it to appear that way.

    It is also very possible that creators of the Census form are friends of Lou Dobbs and trying to prove that Blacks and Latinos are “taking over their country”…

  10. You people are naive with this crap. I never filled one out and never will……and if I must I will write something bogus. Good luck

  11. And whats legal paying my taxes, so someone else pockets them into their packets and uses for their own interest.

  12. OK, you are right, my post made it look like Latinos don't read English. I certainly didn't want it to appear that way.

    It is also very possible that creators of the Census form are friends of Lou Dobbs and trying to prove that Blacks and Latinos are “taking over their country”…

  13. You people are naive with this crap. I never filled one out and never will……and if I must I will write something bogus. Good luck

  14. And whats legal paying my taxes, so someone else pockets them into their packets and uses for their own interest.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here