All Things Census


Census Participation Patterns Vary Among Large Cities

A new analysis of 2010 Census participation rates so far has found wide variation from one city to the next in the degree to which race and ethnic characteristics predict response rates.

Nationally, the analysis by the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center found a consistent association between an area’s race and Hispanic makeup and its response rate so far. But in looking closely at the nation’s 67 largest cities, the analysis found many local exceptions to nationwide patterns.

For example, neighborhoods where a high share of the population is black tend to have below-average shares of households that have mailed back their census forms. That is even more likely in St. Louis and Boston, the analysis found, but the association is relatively weak in Houston and Atlanta, among others. Neighborhoods that are heavily white have above-average participation rates nationally, but in Honolulu, white neighborhoods have lower participation rates.

Nationally, areas with high Hispanic populations have had below-average response rates so far. But in Miami, Newark and New York, three cities with substantial Latino populations, “greater Hispanic populations tended to increase participation rates” at the census-tract, or neighborhood, level, the analysis concludes. Read more


News Coverage of the 2010 Census

Stories about the 2010 Census account for a growing — albeit small — fraction of U.S. news coverage, according to statistics compiled by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For the week of March 29-April 4, stories about the census filled 2% of the “newshole,” which is the space and time devoted to print, online and broadcast news coverage as tracked by PEJ’s News Coverage Index. The 2010 Census ranked as the 14th largest story last week, a time period that included April 1, Census Day.

The top story last week was coverage of the U.S. economy, which filled 10% of the newshole; some of those stories noted that temporary hiring by the Census Bureau was one reason for recent gains in employment nationwide. In second place last week was the health care bill, at 9%, dropping from 45% the previous week.

The PEJ statistics track coverage of the 2010 Census each week starting Feb. 1-7. From then through last week, the 2010 Census accounted for 0.4% of total coverage, and it ranked only 37th among top stories. The census had its highest share of coverage last week. Read more


Who Is Participating in the 2010 Census and Who Isn’t?

Areas of the country that the Census Bureau has deemed “hard to count” have below-average response rates in the 2010 Census so far, according to a new analysis of participation rates by the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

The bureau produced a score for every census tract in the country that predicts how hard it will be to get an accurate count of its residents. The score, which was based on housing, demographic and socioeconomic variables correlated with poor response in previous censuses, was intended to help the government and its partners target census-promotion efforts. It “seems to be a good predictor” of response rates, the analysis concludes.

The analysis also examines participation rates by geography and race, and reports that “a handful of counties already have exceeded their 2000 participation rates.”


New Survey: Hispanics and the 2010 Census

Foreign-born Hispanics know more about the 2010 Census than their U.S.-born counterparts, and are more likely to say that they have participated or definitely will, according to a nationwide survey released today by the Pew Hispanic Center. Latinos who are immigrants also are more likely than U.S.-born Latinos to say the census is good for the Hispanic community.

The survey of Hispanic adults was taken March 16-25, which coincided with the arrival of 2010 Census forms in the mail at most U.S. households, as well as the arrival of a reminder postcard.

Overall, 85% of Hispanics say they already have sent in their 2010 Census forms or definitely plan to do so.  That is an increase in the expressed willingness to participate among Hispanics from previous Pew Research Center surveys in early March and in January. Hispanics are considered a hard-to-reach group. In 2000, 69% of Hispanic households mailed back their census forms, compared with 79% of non-Hispanic householders.


Updated Profiles of Hispanic and Foreign-Born U.S. Residents

The Pew Hispanic Center’s statistical profiles of Hispanics and foreign-born U.S. residents have been updated using 2008 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The profiles of economic and demographic characteristics include two topics not covered in previous versions of these profiles:  Racial self-identification and health insurance status. Similar profiles are available for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Other topics covered in the profiles include age, geographic dispersion, nativity, citizenship, origin, language proficiency, living arrangements, marital status, fertility, schooling, earnings, poverty and occupation.


Recent Reading on the 2010 Census

The Census Bureau’s national map and statistics showing detailed daily participation rates in the 2010 Census is being picked up by journalists around the country in various ways.

USA Today used the data to construct its own look-up tool for participation rates. Here is another interactive map on AOL news, with a story summarizing national rate patterns.

The Houston Chronicle used the Census Bureau’s participation data to drill down to the neighborhood level, and concluded that homeowners in older parts of town are more likely to return their 2010 Census forms than renters in newer areas. One Michigan county has a low participation rate, but that can explained by its high share of vacation homes, according to story on Michigan Radio, the NPR affiliate in the state.


2010 Census Early Response Rate

The Census Bureau has rolled out the first set of numbers showing the 2010 Census mail participation rate for communities, states and the nation. The mail participation rate is the share of households that mailed back the 2010 Census forms they received. In 2000, the final mail participation rate was 72%.

For the 2010 Census as of March 23, the rate is 16%, amounting to about 21 million forms. Census Bureau director Robert Groves said the counting effort was “off to a good start,” though he also said it is too early to discern patterns in the numbers for a variety of reasons.

For example, while some Midwestern states have the highest participation rates so far, Groves noted that some parts of that region had their census forms hand-delivered earlier than the rest of the country received them. (Most households had their forms delivered early last week.) Maryland’s early participation rate also is above-average (25%) as measured, but that rate may be boosted by the fact that a census processing center is located in the state so the returned forms are being counted more rapidly, he said.

The Census Bureau has not released data showing a comparable figure for the mail participation rate at this point in time during the 2000 Census. However, the Census Bureau’s evaluation of mail response rates in the 2000 Census and evaluation of mail return rates in the 2000 Census include charts showing day-by-day participation rates in March and April. As explained in this posting about the mail participation rate, that rate falls somewhere between the mail response rate and mail return rate.

The Census Bureau will report the mail participation rate for the nation, states and localities each weekday, based on data received by 1 p.m. EDT the previous day. The reports will end April 23, when the bureau will turn its attention to its non-response follow-up effort.


Who Are the 2010 Census Skeptics?

Among American adults who say they may not participate in the 2010 Census, 44% are under age 30, according to a new analysis of a Pew Research Center survey on attitudes toward the national headcount.

The survey, released last week, found that most Americans are aware of the 2010 Census, and 87% say they definitely or probably will return their forms. But 12% of American adults say they might or might not participate, probably will  not participate or definitely will not participate by filling out their 2010 Census forms. This new analysis looks in detail at this skeptical group, which poses a challenge to the Census Bureau’s efforts to achieve a complete count.


Survey: How Many Will Participate in 2010 Census?

As forms for the 2010 U.S. Census arrive in households across the nation this week, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that nearly nine-in-ten Americans (87%) now say they definitely or probably will fill out and return their forms, or have already done so. This represents a six-point increase in likely participation since an earlier survey released in January.

However,  younger people and those with lower levels of  income and education are less likely than others to say they definitely will participate. The survey also finds differing views about the importance of the census and its possible benefits.


College Students Count in the Census, but Where?

Where should college students be counted in the 2010 Census–at their parents’ home or their school address? The Census Bureau has a cut-and-dried answer, but this question recurs each decade because census rules and people’s preferences are not always in sync.

The 2010 Census operates on the idea that people should be counted at their usual address. According to census rules, people should be counted (“enumerated,” in census-speak) at a residence if they:

  • Live or stay at the residence most of the time; OR
  • Stayed there on April 1, 2010 and had no permanent place to live; OR
  • Stay at the residence more time than any other place they might live or stay.

That means most college students should be counted at their college address, either on campus or off campus. They should be counted at their parents’ home only if they live and sleep there most of the year.

This is puzzling to many people. Even Census Bureau Director Robert Groves wrote on his blog that his two college-student sons were not sure whether they should fill out forms at their school addresses or at their parents’ house. Census research has found that some students are counted twice, once in each place.

To deal with this problem, the Census Bureau added a new question to the 2010 Census form asking whether each person listed as living in a household sometimes lives or stays somewhere else. For those who answer “yes,” the options include “in college housing.” Census officials hope that the answers to this question will help them determine the correct address for everyone who is counted and avoid counting college students more than once. Read more