Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Census workers go door to door

Teams of U.S. Census enumerators are going door to door to interview people who did not return their census forms. Nationwide, the response rate is 72 percent; in the Elizabethtown area, the response rates range between 76 percent and 81 percent, according to the Census' Take 10 Map that lets you search by ZIP code and displays a Google map.

A friend of mine is working as an enumerator, and I thought I would relay what he told me about his experience. He asked me not to identify him because Census workers are sworn to protect the confidentiality of the Census information.

"We must take that very seriously. I can't tell even tell my family where I will be going on my assignments. ...

"Everything is kept confidential, and it generally takes 10 minutes for a person to either fill out his form or complete an interview with an enumerator. Personal information is kept confidential under federal law for 72 years. The general statistics are used to determine how billions of dollars are spent because Census data helps Congress make decisions on where to spend money based on population density throughout each state.

"It's quite simple to comply with federal law and assist a Census worker who comes knocking on your door. You have nothing to be afraid of, and it really doesn't take that much of your time. Of course, it also can help your community qualify for government funding."

Census data is also used to help determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. By filling out your form and/or answering an enumerator's questions, you are helping Elizabethtown and Pennsylvania by ensuring a stronger representation in Congress and giving the Commonwealth a voice nationally.

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