Census forms arriving this week

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Forms for the 2010 Census began arriving at 120 million homes across the country this week, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete, the bureau estimates.

“When you receive your 2010 Census, please fill it out and mail it back,” Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said. “It’s one of the shortest forms in our lifetime with just 10 questions very much like the questions James Madison and Thomas Jefferson helped craft on the very first Census.”

Census officials urge every household to mail back their forms because it helps ensure a more accurate count and creates a cost savings for the government.

“It costs the government just 42 cents for a postage paid envelope when a household mails back the form,” Groves said. “It costs $57 to send a census taker door-to-door to follow up with each household that fails to respond.”

Census officials estimate that 48 million households will not respond by mail and will require door-to-door follow-ups.

Census forms are available upon request in six languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. For the first time, bilingual English/Spanish forms will be mailed out to 13 million households where Spanish is the predominant language spoken at home. Braille and large print forms are also available on request. For the hearing impaired, a TDD program is available at 1-866-738-2010.

Census responses are confidential under the law. Anyone who unlawfully discloses census information can face a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment of up to five years or both.

The census is mandated by the constitution and has been taken every 10 years since 1790. Data collected in the census is used to distribute more than $400 million in federal funds to tribal, state and local governments as well as make decisions about community services.