So, How Are we Doing?

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

As I’m watching the returns of the census forms by mail each day, our staff is busy forecasting and analyzing the pattern of results.

I have a strange déjà vu feeling about the activity. I spent a good chunk of my career studying patterns of nonresponse to sample surveys in the commercial and scientific sectors, both in the US and around the world. I’ve worked with researchers in many Western countries since 1991, jointly trying to understand why the percentage of persons responding to surveys has been consistently declining in those countries. Collectively we learned a lot; we saw in every country that urban areas have lower participation rates than other areas; we saw that those who live by themselves tend to have lower rates; we saw the pervasively lower rates among those with lower education; we saw that males tend to respond at lower rates than females. But, most consistently, we saw almost every country generating lower rates of participation each year.

These were the studies of survey methodologists around the world. They have not yet yielded a manageable set of causes of these lower response rates, so there is much progress yet to be made.

As I talk to mayors of towns and our census partners, struggling to get their mail return rates higher, I find myself redoing the same discussions I have had with my researcher colleagues over the past twenty years.

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17 Responses to So, How Are we Doing?

  1. Ann says:

    It’s April 16th and we have not received our forms !
    In fact NONE of our neighbors we have spoken to have recieved their forms !
    Wondering if the USPS is working against you and decided to just dump the forms for our neighborhood into the garbage ??
    Would love to help you, but can’t return it unless we receive it !

  2. Jeff says:

    I only filled out #1. Send all you want to my door with your threats and scare tactics! That is all you will EVER get!

  3. Heinz57 says:

    the racial designators are offensive, inaacurate and outdated! You have Negro but White (not Caucasian) and you break down the Asian designations by country but no one else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What sense does this make and you wonder why people are unwilling to participate! It is emotionally crippling!

  4. V. Perl says:

    So how are you doing… Well, I am not impressed and have become quite frustrated trying to send in my census form that I never received.
    I never received a census form. I received the letter that told me I would soon receive a census form, and I received the post card to remind me to return my form. As I am a responsible citizen of the United States I was watching for the form. After realizing I had not received my form I started asking others in my community if they had received theirs. Yes, they had. I immediately went to the post office thinking they could give me a form. No, they cannot. I then went to the internet to find out what to do. The site is not very helpful, and I had a hard time finding the page that would give me the information I was looking for. I called the phone number. This did not help as it only gave general information that did not pertain to my problem. I looked some more on the site and found that I could do nothing until April 12.
    I travel out of state for my work. The week of April 12 I would be out of state. I would not be able to take care of my problem since I would not be home. When I returned home I went back to the internet site, which is still user unfriendly, and finally found an entry as to what to do if I never received a form. I called the number. I was able to request a form over the phone.
    I hope I receive the form soon as next week I will once again be out of town for work.
    Why did I not receive a form? One of two reasons: the census employee did not hang the form on my door, or the census employee did hang a form on my door and the wind blew it off (I live in a very windy area of the country). Also, my post card did not have a number below the bar code so this was also frustrating.

  5. Autumn says:

    I received a form, sent it in on time, and I *still* have people bothering me at home leaving notices on my door. I’m not calling them back. I answered the questions once, I’m not doing it again.
    ALSO, what’s up with all the Census shirts/hats/whatnot being made outside the United States? The money to make that stuff should have been paid to American companies on American soil.
    To sum it up– how are you doing? Well, I’m not impressed.

  6. Jim says:

    Supposedly millions of dollars have been spent on this census effort.
    Why do people with Post office Boxes not get a form via the Post office ???
    Why did you not let people know that forms can be obtained from workers at local libraries ??
    Will you be surprised when you WILL NOT have a count of all eligible citizens??

  7. says:

    Are you kidding me? You’re paying the Goodyear Blimp to advertise nearly a month after the census forms are sent out. This is unreasonable. If we need to support local programs with our total counts, why are you paying an expensive private entity to advertise your little enterprise? What a waste! This is unconscionable.

  8. fdebough, The essential challenge for the Census Bureau is that because the census happens only once every 10 years, many Americans are unaware of when it happens and how they participate.
    The goal of our promotion efforts is to raise awareness of when and how the Census works. We have a very limited window of opportunity to achieve our goals and must continue promote the 2010 Census raise awareness during the entire operation.

  9. Ron says:

    No form was every delivered to my mail box. Calling the census bureau got me in contact with an extremely unhelpful individual who could not provide me with a solution. So I guess I’ll wait for someone to show up at my apartment to ask me questions. Fine by me if you want to waste the money to do that. I’d much rather just fill out a form and mail it back but the incompetence level is so extreme with you guys I’m not sure it really matters.

  10. says:

    Dear Dr. Groves,
    I applied for census job and got 100% score (28/28) in employment test on April 5, but apparently I am not offered a job. As enumerators start training on April 26, I called local office (Syracuse), and a lady said my status shown on computer is “available” for work, and my score is “at the top of the list,” but she asked me to wait a few weeks. However, I wonder how many weeks I should wait, and, without seeing other channel to have my voice, I have to post a comment here to ask if you can help me get an assignment before the census ends, or may help me find out story behind no available work for a full-score applicant. I am really a precise and good worker, and please don’t imagine if I should supposedly have anything bad because the local office appears not hiring me.

  11. Qwxsean, All hiring is being conducted via our field offices. They are extremely busy, and will get back with you when they can. Job offers depend on several factors, such as the availability of work in your community, test score, language skills, veterans’ preference, and the number of hours you are available to work each week. Please understand that not every qualified applicant who takes the employment test and applies will be offered a census job. Job offers are made by the Local Census Office.
    If you have been unsuccessful in reaching the Local Census Office that serves your area, you may call the Regional Census Center in your area for further assistance. You can identify your Regional Census Center by following the link below and clicking on the region that serves your area.

  12. says:

    I have contacted both local and regional offices and still haven’t received any message on job offer at the moment.

  13. karen says:

    Karen says the same thing , I mailed my form in with more information that I was required according to the constitution states. Yet a man from the Gadsden Alabama office of the census says either it was lost or wouldn’t scan right , so it has to be done again and they are sending someone until I give them all the information they want. But I will only be giving what is required . the constitution states the government will count the people every ten years, not collect their names you can have names but birthdates is going way to far. It is none of the census business how much we make or if we own our home, the Irs gov has all that. It is not my fault that I tried to participate and the census office screwed up in getting the information.

  14. Weixiong Qiu says:

    Dear Dr. Groves,
    At about 8:45am today (5/6/10), I called Syracuse local office, and a lady, identified herself as supervisor of the local office, answered my question why I have 100% score at employment test but cannot get a census taker job. She said applicants’ highest score in Syracuse is 110%, and it is a nationwide policy to add 10% score to verterans. She said hiring is to pull from the highest score down in a list generated by computer, and this is why I have 100% score on test but won’t get the job.
    Because I don’t have access to your database, can I ask you to help verify two pieces of information that I obtain from your local supervisor’s explaination:
    1) In employment tests offered by Census Bureau nationwide, it’s an estabilished policy to add 10% score to verteans.
    2) In Syracuse area, employees of the Census 2010 hired so far all have test scores above 100%.
    For the second question, to show fairness to the public, is it possible to show data on the total number of current Census employees in Syracuse area, and how many percent of these employees have employment test scores higher than 100%?

  15. Marylouise Awana says:

    I have no idea who is going to read this, but, I must put my experience with the 2010 census in writing. The complications all started when I inadvertently lost my mailed census form while preparing to go on vacation. When I returned from vacation, I called to request another form and was told it was too late to get a form. So, they took my information over the phone. Done? No. May 3, 2010, I answered the door when a very courteous census worker knocked. I invited her in, offered her a beverage, she declined, and proceeded to take my census information. Done. May 10, I get another knock on my door from another census worker. Good grief, does this smack of incompetence? I tried to calmly explain to her that I had completed the door-to-door form. Will I be arrested next?

  16. Marylouise, Thank you for participating in the 2010 Census. The reason that you received a visit from a census enumerator is because your residence was added to non-response follow up assignment list that was created prior to your form being processed. The second follow-up visit was a quality assurance interview. The Census Bureau needs to ensure that the data collected is correct. Not every residence will receive a quality assurance interview.

  17. Matthew A. Flynn says:

    If you haven’t received your census forms – you might be having a mail delivery issue? Try contacting your local post office after finding them via post office locator and see if there is any issue. You might be having non-delivery of other important items!

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