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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Commends the Nation’s Strong Participation in the 2010 Census as Final Numbers Come In

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

74 Percent of Households Mailed Back their 2010 Census Form, Helping to Reduce the Cost of Expensive Door-to-Door Follow Up

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke congratulated the nation on its strong participation in the 2010 Census today following the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of the final mail participation rate of 74 percent. The final percentage of households across the country that filled out and mailed back their 2010 Census questionnaire matched the final mail participation rate achieved in the 2000 Census, with more than 22 states, 1,553 counties, and 278 cities and other geographies meeting or exceeding their 2000 Census participation rates. 

At the end of the mail-back period in April, Locke announced that 72 percent of U.S. households had mailed back their 2010 Census forms, matching the rate achieved at the end of the mail-back period in the 2000 Census. Since then, an additional 2 percent of households in the United States have mailed back their forms.

“I’d like to thank the American people for their cooperation and participation in the 2010 Census,” Locke said. “With their help, we were able to match the participation rates of 2000 in a time of declining survey participation and save taxpayer money by reducing the need for costly door-to-door follow up.”

America’s strong mail participation is part of the reason that the U.S. Census Bureau was able to announce $1.6 billion in 2010 Census operational savings in August. The largest cost of the census is the labor associated with follow up to households that didn’t mail back their forms.  Because more forms were mailed back, less follow up was needed, resulting in a lower cost.

In the 2000 Census, the nation turned around a three-decade trend of declining mail-back rates. Since then, the country has become even more difficult to count. Over the last decade, participation in surveys of all kinds has been declining. The nation has grown by some 30 million people; it is more diverse, more residents are not native English speakers, more are facing economic dislocation from homes, more live in non-standard housing arrangements, and there are greater concerns regarding personal privacy.

“The final mail participation rate for the 2010 Census is a testament to the enduring civic-mindedness of the American people,” U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “Three-fourths of American households took the time to perform this important once-a-decade exercise in American democracy.”

More than 250,000 partner organizations and a far-reaching communications campaign helped alert all segments of the population about the importance of mailing back their 2010 Census form. Since the end of the 2000 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau worked to create an operational plan for 2010 that would produce a complete and accurate count while being vigilant of taxpayer dollars.

See the 2010 Census’s interactive “Take 10” Map with final mail participation rates for the nation, states, counties, cities, towns and even the neighborhood level here.