Census Preparing Major Promotional Campaign
The 2010 population census is a year away, but the public will soon see a promotional campaign ranging from school marquees to NASCAR entries.
The U.S. Census Bureau has once again cranked up the Complete Count Committee in Moore County, but this time it's for the real thing -- the 2010 Census.
However, job seekers are advised to continue their search elsewhere, because every census job for Moore County and the entire region has already been filled.
Terry D. Henderson, a partnership specialist with the Census Bureau, said 25 people applied for every position available during the recruitment period in January and February.
Henderson met with the committee on March 20 at the Senior Enrichment Center for a session coordinated by the Moore County Department of Planning and Community Development.
"Our goal is to make sure everybody in Moore County gets counted," Henderson said.
In coming months, the community can expect a barrage of census material urging residents to cooperate when the questionnaires arrive in the mail. The promotional material will arrive in school children's backpacks, will be tucked in church bulletins, will appear on Web sites and will be distributed at seasonal festivals, such as the Buggy Festival in Carthage, SpringFest and AutumnFest in Southern Pines, Farmers Day in Robbins and the Antiques Fair in Cameron.
And, for the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau will be advertising on a NASCAR entry. Henderson said a decision has not been made as to which car will be chosen.
Henderson told the committee that the county has everything to gain if all residents are counted and much to lose if they are not counted. That includes the large Latino population, and, among them, undocumented workers and the homeless.
Despite objections to the presence of undocumented workers, Henderson said they must be counted, along with everyone else, because they use the same public services available to citizens and legal immigrants.
Henderson cited the example of two automobile accidents, one in which the driver is the county manager, the other in which the driver is an undocumented worker. He said the law-enforcement agency, the ambulance service and the fire department will answer both calls, regardless of the legal status of the driver. First responders to accidents and other disasters do not know the legal status of victims needing service.
Counting everyone is important, Henderson said, because census results will dictate the distribution of funds to states and counties by the federal government and also by states. In an average year, some $300 billion in federal funds is allocated to states and local communities through the use of census data.
Census population figures are also used to determine reapportionment of members of the U.S. House of Representatives. After the 2000 census, North Carolina was able to gain an additional member of Congress.
Henderson said that promotional material emphasizes the confidential nature of census information.
"The census does not share any information," he said. "We're bound by law."
That means that census workers cannot turn information collected over to immigration authorities, to law-enforcement agencies, or to the Internal Revenue Service.
In fact, Henderson and all census employees take an oath that includes the confidentiality of information collected. Anyone who violates that provision is subject to a heavy fine and/or imprisonment.
The 2010 census form will be one of the shortest in history with 10 questions on the questionnaire. It does not ask for Social Security numbers but does ask for a home address and date of birth. The 2000 census form contained 50 questions.
Henderson said that renewed emphasis is being placed on reaching all aspects of the population. He said census officials are aware of public suspicion of census workers and of the census program and want to assure everyone that the statistics collected will be used to their benefit.
Census figures collected in 2000 placed North Carolina as 10th in population across the nation.
Since then, the Latino population has grown 400 percent.
In addition to English, questionnaires will be available in five other languages that are common in various parts of the United States. These are Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. Fifty other languages may also be accessed, and persons speaking those languages can secure a questionnaire in their language by calling a special toll-free number.
Questionnaires will not be mailed until February and March of next year. In the meantime, census workers are updating addresses and handling other details.
Residents will be asked to fill out the questionnaires and mail them to the Census Bureau. Census workers will make individual visits to households that have not mailed back their questionnaires within a couple of weeks after receipt.
Dress Rehearsal Called Off
Members of the Complete Count Committee are largely the same people who served on the committee appointed a year ago to promote what was called a dress rehearsal for the real thing, conducted in two parts of the country. Moore County was one of several counties surrounding Fort Bragg included in the dress rehearsal. The other site was in California.
However, the dress rehearsal fell through because of technical difficulties and results were never collected.
The census already has problems of its own this year, starting with the lack of a secretary of commerce. Two nominees of President Obama have turned down the job, which is now likely to be filled by Gov. Gary Locke of Washington. The Census Bureau is an arm of the Department of Commerce.
The U.S. Constitution requires that a census of the population be taken at 10-year intervals.
Census statistics are available on the bureau's Web site at www.census.gov/2010census. An update of Moore County's population has not been posted on the Web site, which shows only the population estimate for 2007, when the figure was 84,435. In 2000 the official figure was 74,769, up from 59,013 in 1990.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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