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An Overview of Undercounts

Posted By briana On November 30, 2009 @ 10:34 am In Non-response Follow Up | 27 Comments

Written by: Director Robert Groves

“… In 2000 only about 70 percent of the population returned their information, leaving several areas seriously under-counted and under-represented …”

I’ve recently read many stories that don’t reflect how the 2010 Census will actually be conducted. The quote above suggests that the final census counts are based only on the questionnaires that are completed and mailed back by households. That is not correct.

If a household doesn’t mail back the questionnaire by the third week of April 2010, a trained Census Bureau enumerator will visit the household, starting in May 2010. Enumerators will try six times if necessary to reach a knowledgeable household member, visiting housing units multiple days at different hours. When the enumerator makes contact, he or she will collect the census data by interview. If enumerators can’t contact a household, they will seek information in any way possible to estimate the number of people in the household.

At the end of this process, every household will have some information about its occupants recorded.

On the other hand, we have learned that the best – and certainly most cost-effective – information we obtain comes from questionnaires mailed back by households. So, the message we all need to promote is that returning the completed questionnaire is the best thing to do for the success of the 2010 Census.

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