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Census affects 'power, money'


February 03, 2010
Maureen Hayden, Indiana partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, urged the Crawford County Board of Commissioners Thursday night to ramp up efforts to get county citizens to complete and return the 2010 questionnaire.

"The response rate in Crawford County, back in the 2000 census, was one of the lowest in Indiana," she said.

Only 61 percent of the forms were returned 10 years ago. The reason that's so troubling, Hayden said, is the decennial census isn't just about counting people. Since the first census in 1790, it's "about money and it's about power," she said.

The number of seats per state in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on population, as is disbursement of tax dollars, Hayden said. Despite the state's population growing in the 1990s, since 50,000 Hoosiers didn't return the 2000 census form, the state lost a House seat, she said. In addition, the Indiana Business Research Center, Hayden said, estimates that for every person not counted, about $1,500 per year is lost in state and federal tax dollars.

"It is in our hands, it is in these folks' hands, it is in your hands, it is in my hands," she said, pointing to everyone in the room. "It's up to all of us to fill out that census form and send it back in.

"I mean, talk about an easy way to do economic development. Fill out a 10-question form and send it back in."

Hayden broke the 2000 response rate down by township for the commissioners.

"You know better than I do what you could say to the folks, for example, in Boone Township, who only had a 40-percent response rate," she said. "I don't know what to say to those folks, but you know what to say to those folks in Boone Township to get them to fill out that form and send it back in."

Hayden said while there soon will be a major advertising campaign to get people to complete the census forms, she also encouraged the commissioners to use members of the community to get the word out about the importance of returning the questionnaire. The most important thing, she said, is "to have local voices, trusted voices" from the community share that message.

The decennial census, Hayden added, also will bring several part-time jobs to the area. The exact number of jobs, which will pay $13 to $15 per hour, and how long they'll be for depends on the response rate, as the part-time employees will be responsible for visiting homes that failed to return a completed form, she said.

The Census Bureau, Hayden said, hopes to be able to hire people from within the community.

"It's a great second job, as a lot of the work can be done on weekends and evenings," she said.

For more information, go to www.2010censusjobs.gov or call 1-866-861-2010.

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