2010 census

V.19 No.18 | 5/6/2010

Number Crunching

2010 Census: New Mexico Among the Worst States for Returning Forms

In biblical times, if the king told you to drop everything ride a donkey back to your hometown to be counted, you did it. But this year's 10-question survey received a more lukewarm response from New Mexican citizens. The Associated Press reports that New Mexico had the second lowest return rate for this year's census forms. Only 63 percent of New Mexicans mailed back their forms, narrowly beating out Alaska's 62 percent return rate to avoid worst-in-show honors.

New Mexico was one of 11 states that failed to at least come within one percentage point of meeting the return rate for the 2000 Census, and overall the return rate for this year's mail-in Census forms was 72 percent—the same as the response rate 10 years ago. This marks an apparent failure for the Census Bureau's advertising blitz leading up to the arrival of Census forms in mailboxes across America—or not, as the Census Bureau stated that it actually reversed a trend of declining survey participation among American citizens.

All this means that Census Bureau employees are gearing up to travel the nation for door-to-door visits with households that failed to return their Census Forms. According to the Associated Press, 4,200 people have been hired to traverse New Mexico from now until July 10, and in all, the Census Bureau will deploy 635,000 people across the nation to round up some accurate data—each paid between $10 and $25 an hour.

V.19 No.13 | 4/1/2010


Census Cartography

Google and the United States Census have teamed up to create an interactive Google Map of 2010 Census participation. You can check it out right here. From what I can tell, it’s intended to inspire some sort of competitive state spirit in the hopes that we’ll fill out our census forms quickly so we can seem more on the ball than freaking Oklahoma.

As a slogan, “Beat your Census 2000 mail-back rate!” lacks a certain zing. The other problem, of course, is people have obviously bought into the paranoia that the population census is some evil government plot. Fill it out and the information will be sent directly to Satan and Darth Vader, who will show up at your house and kill your pets. Right now, for example, 18 percent of New Mexicans have filled out their census forms. By this point in 2000, 65 percent of us had filled them out. Montana, by the way, is the current mail-back leader at 33 percent. At this rate, we should have the U.S. population counted by ... the 2020 Census, at least.

V.19 No.4 | 1/28/2010

Today: Get a Job

Is the economy improving, or isn't it? Numbers and predictions are being thrown around like aimless pebbles, and millions of Americans are still without jobs. To remedy the situation, the U.S. Census Beureau is holding a job fair at the John Marshall Center (1500 Walter SE) today from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. A variety of full- and part-time positions promise to be available to hundreds of thousands of people, boasting great pay and flexible scheduling. After all, those bills are doing a pretty crappy job of paying themselves. For more information, visit 2010censusjobs.gov or call 1-866-861-2010

V.17 No.14 |


Last week there was a story about census officials having trouble with the handleheld computers that they had planned to use in the 2010 census. What struck me was that there was a $600 million contract for the computers. I remember wondering: how can it cost that much to count people? $600 million is a lot of money. It sounds like a waste of money, to repay some contractor that funded someone's campaign, all in the name of flashy high-tech that probably doesn't work any better than pen and paper.

I was wrong about everything. Everything!

$600 million is not a lot of money; it's a drop in the bucket. And apparently, not getting to use the computers is going to increase the cost by two billion dollars.

Waitaminute.. increase the cost by? You mean increase the cost to, right?

According to this story:

Gutierrez said reverting to a paper-based census, in addition to other costs not associated with the handhelds, is expected to increase the cost of the 2010 census to between $2.2 billion and $3 billion through fiscal year 2013. That would bring the total cost of the 2010 census to between $13.7 billion and $14.5 billion. He said the bureau would need an increase of $160 million to $230 million for fiscal 2008 to cover costs associated with returning to paper, with an additional $600 million to $700 million for fiscal 2009. Gutierrez added that the majority of the cost increases would occur in 2010.

$13.7 billion total cost, on the low end. According to the 2000 Census, the US population was 281,421,906. Divide $13.7 billion by that number, and you get $48.68 per person. That's what it costs to count you.

Maybe I was too hard on Sequoia. Counting is hard.