The U.S. Census will begin sending out 2010 forms in the Spring with a hope that more South Carolinians fill them out. In 2000, the last time census forms were distributed, Rania Jamison with the Census office says South Carolina’s response rate was low.
Yet, South Carolina stands to gain another seat in Congress if the count captures projected population growth.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we do everything we can to make sure South Carolina is represented well with the census. In the 2000 census we actually had the second lowest response rate by mail only behind Alaska. So, we’re just trying to work with local governmental agencies across the state to make sure we do a better job this time around,” says Jamison.
Part of the reason some residents may have passed on filling out the forms could have been the length. Jamison says people do not have to worry about that this time.
“The long form has gone away. There is a survey that all of those questions are asked on now, but the actual U.S. Census form is only 10 questions,” says Jamison.
Another reason for the unreturned forms, according to Jamison, is confidentiality.
“The census form is very safe and confidential. The information is not shared at all between federal agencies, or between either your numerator or other individuals. So, it is actually against the law to share the information and there are actually some steep penalties if you do share that information,” says Jamison.
Jamison explains what the information is used for: “That information is used to actually determine how the funds get distributed to states. So, that’s why it’s important for us to make sure that as a state we have a good count. They actually, the funds that come down based on census dollars fund things like road construction, health care, and educational programs. So, all of the things that we want to improve our community are the direct ties to the census,” says Jamison.
The 2010 forms will be mailed out in mid-March. For those who do not respond, a second form will be mailed out in April. After that, if the second form is still not returned, a census worker will show up at the resident’s door.