April 28th, 2010
08:23 PM ET

Preliminary census numbers achieve goal, bureau says

America mailed it back, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday, announcing that slightly more than 72 percent of households completed this year's nationwide survey - the same rate achieved during the last census in 2000.

"This is, I think, a congratulations due to the American public for their act of civic participation," Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau, said in announcing the numbers. "We are grateful and happy to report that."

The return rate matched the goal set by the bureau to achieve the same numbers as the 2000 survey. "I can tell you that folks at the Census Bureau are dancing down the hallways," Groves said of the milestone.

He attributed the achievement to the new, shorter form and an aggressive advertising campaign. "The short form reduced the burden of the American public, and they cooperated at higher rates," he said.

Wisconsin had the highest mail participation rate at 81 percent. North Carolina and South Carolina achieved the greatest percentage point increase among all states, both increasing by eight percentage points. More than 630,000 census workers will fan out across the country starting this weekend to survey the remaining households.

The Census Bureau has chalked up a vast array of numbers regarding the 2010 census and its importance: more than $400 billion in federal funds allocated based in part on the census, 134 million "housing units" contacted, 13.5 million bilingual (English/Spanish) questionnaires delivered in selected neighborhoods, and so on.

But there is one that cuts to the bottom line of census business: It costs the government 42 cents for each response that comes back via mailed census form, while it costs the government an estimated $57 per household to obtain responses in person. The latter figure can vary, according to the number of times census workers have to come knocking to get a response, the bureau says.

Taken on a grander scale, taxpayers would save $1.5 billion if everyone completed and mailed back the census questionnaire instead of requiring the hiring, training and dispatching of that army of census workers, the bureau says.

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soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. michael O

    Great Job America! I hope you remebered to fill it out correctly..
    Race: Human

    April 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Edith B

    Too bad we can't get nearly that % going to vote

    April 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. brandon

    if we could vote via mailing then we'd achieve that % in major elections

    April 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Justin C

    To Michael O, you should try filling out comment correctly. American isn't a ethnic group, its a nationality.

    April 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Henry V


    April 29, 2010 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. jack Ass


    April 29, 2010 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. me

    lol @ henry V

    April 29, 2010 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin G

    Brian B I assume you only completed the 3rd grade?

    April 29, 2010 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin Mahoney

    Maybe Miichael O. is about 100 years more advanced than some of you. I like your thinking Michael, the world needs more people like you.

    April 29, 2010 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. laysomepipe

    Guess nobody got Michael O's joke.

    April 29, 2010 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. ezmac

    Is a little bit of grammar and spelling too much to ask? Especially considering Firefox has an installed spell check, it shouldn't be that hard.

    April 29, 2010 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. disappointed

    Why does every comment board turn into some crazy unrelated to the article ranting. As for the article glad to see so many people returned their paperwork by why not have an online option? Save the money on returns and I bet you would get a percentage higher than 72%.

    April 29, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. OldGirl

    Whatr is with the microprint on the comment form?
    Is it a sorting process?
    And why is the news five days old?
    Has everyone at CNN got the flu?
    Nothing is being updated.

    Good one, michael o. I agree.

    Let us hope that ten years hence it will be different.

    May 2, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |