We are being counted – Since 1790 a national census takes place every 10 years in the USA. And, as luck will have it, this happens exactly while we are living here.
The counting of all U.S. residents – citizens and non-citizens alike, every 10 years is required by the constitution and is, according to the explanation of the Census 2010 website, an important instrument to find out how much money of federal funding each U.S. state will receive for public institutions. It can also have effects on the number of seats a federal state will have in the House of Representatives.
So the census is quite an important thing. It’s especially important for California this time, as California faces the loss of a seat in the House of Representatives if there are less people counted / living here, than required for the current number of seats California owns.
People in fear of data security might now go on the barricades and I still remember the protests against the census in Germany in the 1980ies very well, but here in the U.S. the census is required by the constitution and thus is not voluntary but mandatory. Every U.S. resident has to fill out and deliver the census form, although many don’t.
If you don’t fill out the form in time, it is most likely that a census taker (thousands of people have been employed just to run the census) knocks at your door and then collects the questions asked in the census form directly on site.
April 1st has been Census 2010 day, the key date, which means the matter was to find out how many people were living in the USA on April 1st, 2010.
The questionnaire itself was actually rather short, merely information to the number of the people living in the household, name, gender, race and age. One could also apply for help for filling of the curve and also, if necessary, interpreters. Not very thrilling the whole stuff, to be honest.
However, it was rather funny that we first received a letter that announced the arrival of a letter with the Census questionnaires. Then, approximately 1 week later, we received another letter with the actual questionnaires, and then once again 1 week later, we received a reminder postcard that asked to please fill the questionnaires and return it to the Census bureau (if not yet happened).
Guess that has been a rather expensive fun for the taxpayers. Nevertheless, more than 2 months later, the census 2010 is still not finished.
On June 6th, 72% of U.S. households participated by mail in the Census 2010, the same rate as in the Census 2000.
Now census takers will start going from door-to-door to obtain census responses from those households that haven’t already participated.
Cotta from Germany blogging from Santa Clara
This is the English version of the original German blog post you can find here http://california.cotta-und-dirk.de/2010/04/census-2010/