Census takers will start knocking in May

By DONNA MELTON – dmelton@sunherald.com

Those who missed the U.S. Census Bureau’s deadline to return questionnaires can expect a home visit this summer.

The agency charged by Congress with counting America will tabulate the returned forms, then map out where enumerators need to knock.

“The process will begin at the beginning of May and end early July,” said Census Bureau media specialist Kat Smith.

Census takers from South Mississippi will visit a household up to six times to ask the 10 questions on the form. At each unsuccessful visit, they’ll leave a door hanger with a phone number for residents to schedule a visit to be counted.

The bureau sent 300,000 million forms, including some by hand delivery.

By Friday’s deadline, the nationwide return rate was 68 percent. In 2000, it was 72 percent at the deadline.

Mississippi’s participation in the is one of the lowest, a fact that alarms U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.

The state has shown a 62 percent return. Only four states — Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and West Virginia — show a lower rate, the bureau said.

Wicker said some have speculated a “healthy and growing skepticism about big government” may result in lower participation. But “ignoring the census is not a productive way to make a statement against the size and intrusiveness of today’s federal government.”

In South Mississippi, participation varies from a high of 64 percent in Pearl River County to a low of 52 percent in Hancock County.

The data provided is used to apportion congressional seats to states, distribute more than $400 billion in federal money to tribal, state and local governments each year and to make decisions about community services. Mississippi lost a congressional seat after the 2000 census. 

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