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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Isles' census rate among the lowest

Associated Press


State-by-state Census participation rates:


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With four days left for people to return their census forms, Hawai'i's participation rate 59 percent is among the lowest in the nation.

The Census Bureau yesterday said the national average is 65 percent.

The highest participation rates are in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska, where return rates range between 71 percent and 76 percent.

Alaska ranks at the bottom, with 54 percent of households returning their forms. It's followed by New Mexico, Louisiana, West Virginia, New York, Hawai'i, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Census Bureau director Robert Groves yesterday urged those in big cities and border regions to step up response to avoid visits by census takers next month.

So far, about 65 percent, or more than 77 million households, have completed and mailed back the 10-question forms. The Midwest leads the pack, while the southern and western U.S. and big cities such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia are lagging.

At a news conference in Washington, Groves said most of the lagging areas are either rural or have dense populations, or have more minority and non-English speaking people. That was also the case in 2000.

While there have been anecdotal reports of conservatives boycotting or only partially filling out the form, Groves said there is no evidence of that.

"Things are going quite well," he said, referring to overall mail response, which remains on track to match or surpass the 2000 mail-back rate of 72 percent.

"But the clock is ticking. We would love to avoid sending census takers to large numbers of households around the country," Groves said.

The Census Bureau is asking people to mail their forms by Friday as it prepares to send more than 600,000 census takers to homes beginning May 1. Homes that have not yet received census forms can call 866-872-6868 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., Eastern time, to submit information by phone or find out where to pick up a form at more than 40,000 help centers around the country.

The Census Bureau has estimated it would save $1.5 billion in follow-up visits if everyone who received a census form mailed it back. The population count, conducted every 10 years, is used to distribute U.S. House seats and more than $400 billion in federal aid.