Census Bureau hopes its mailboxes are fuller this week

With participation rates somewhat lower than expected, the U.S. Census Bureau is hoping that its mailbox will be brimming with 2010 census forms this week to avoid time-consuming in-person surveys.

Friday marked the final day for residents to mail back the surveys.

As of Saturday, the participation rate nationally was 69%, 3 percentage points lower than the rate in 2000.

In Los Angeles County, the rate was 66%, 6 percentage points lower than the 2000 rate.


The numbers aren’t final. Forms are expected to trickle in for another week, and workers won’t be out for counts until May 1.

Though the overall rates are coming in lower than in 2000, people who live in some census tracts that had low mail-in rates in 2000 have improved their participation this year, said Steven Romalewski, with the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York.

Romalewski said it was too early to know why those areas had improved.

More than 10% of the nation’s counties have exceeded their 2000 participation rate by 5 percentage points or more, according to an analysis by the center.


Most of those counties are in the upper Midwest or the South.

There has been unprecedented involvement by national and community advocates to get into the trenches and record the communities that have been deemed difficult to count, said Terri Lowenthal, a consultant for the Funders Census Initiative.

The census is a count of everyone living in the U.S. and is mandated by the Constitution.

Data will be used to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds and to make decisions about community services.


“It’s still a little low, but there’s still time,” Romalewski said.