04/29/10 — Census return rate high in Wayne County

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Census return rate high in Wayne County

By Laura Collins
Published in News on April 29, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County boasts a high response rate to the 2010 census.

The Wayne County participation rate is 73 percent, above the national rate of 72 percent, and up from its 2000 rate of 64 percent.

"We are very pleased with the response we got from Wayne County," said Tony Jones, Census Bureau spokesperson. "The Carolinas have really shown the largest percentage of increase over the other states."

All 100 counties in North Carolina met or surpassed the 2000 participation rate.

"Any time it's over it's good," he said. "If it's increased, especially from 2000, that's a good measure. We're very pleased."

The city of Goldsboro had a 71 percent response rate, which Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan said was important to the city's future.

"Making sure that we have an accurate count is key," she said. "It helps growth, and it makes sure we have additional resources allocated."

She said part of the success in the city is due to census workers getting started early on, talking to the public and city officials, asking for support and getting the word out.

The Pikeville participation rate was also high at about 73 percent. Mount Olive and Fremont, however, had lower participation rates with only 66 percent from Mount Olive and 60 percent from Fremont. Fremont Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said the Census Bureau's policy to not mail the 2010 Census to post office boxes could contribute to the town's low response rate.

"We opened the Town Hall up and had a person here to help with questions, and we sent out newsletters about the census," McDuffie said. "If there's any reason for (the 60 percent response rate) the Census Bureau would not mail anything to a post office box. If someone lives inside the town limits most everybody has a post office box."

Although the state and county response rates were good, Jones, there were issues the Census Bureau faced during this census.

"We still have some particular groups that we have challenges in participation," he said. "The African-American community, Hispanic, Native Americans and Asians they tend to respond a little less than the general population. It's always been a challenge, this year, in 2000, in 1990...But we feel we've made some inroads in those communities."

Next, 2010 Census workers and volunteers will begin going door to door as part of their Nonresponse Follow-Up campaign that begins Saturday.

"If they've not mailed back in their form, we try to get the rest of them in Nonresponse," he said. "The Census Bureau makes a very strong effort to make sure that everyone is counted."

McDuffie said he would like to see the Nonresponse Follow-Up bring up Fremont's response rate.

"I really hope that it will and believe it will," McDuffie said. "An accurate response rate is important because the federal and state government use it to determine money that comes from the state, but also because private businesses use it to determine where to market their products and build their businesses at."

Jones expects the Census Bureau to visit 48 million households across the country during the campaign, which runs until July 10. The census determines how more than $400 billion federal funds will be allocated in the next 10 years for roads, schools, libraries and fire stations, among other things.

"These are things folks need and utilize everyday in their lives," Jones said. "The cities and towns are fighting for every single dollar they get back from the federal government."