Local Politics

Mailing signals census is coming

Posted March 9, 2010

— When she received a letter from the U.S. Census in the mail on Monday, Jean Harless was ready to fill out the form and be counted. She was shocked when she opened the envelope. Instead of the form, she found a letter informing her that the real form would be coming soon.

Letters like the one Harless received were sent to 120 million households. The government has spent about $85 million on "pre-letters" in advance of the official census forms and reminders that will be sent out after the forms have been sent, officials said.

Harless believes the pre-letter she received is a waste especially during these tough economic times.

Census 2010 forms Census mails pre-letter before actual form

The population count, conducted every 10 years, is used to distribute seats in the House of Representatives and more than $400 billion in federal aid. The questions on the form ask about gender, race, family composition and housing, as well for an address and telephone number.

Bill Baiocchi, who heads the Raleigh census office, said officials expect to see a significant savings by sending an advance notice before the form and a reminder to mail it back after you get it.

“It’s a rule of thumb in the marketing purposes these days that if you send a reminder card you’re gonna increase your response rate dramatically and a pre-letter is even better,” Baiocchi said.

Reaction to the pre-letter was mixed in Raleigh.

“What price do you pay for counting everyone? They want to make sure everyone has a voice,” Belinda Preacher said Tuesday.

Kathleen Mujais described the letters as “kind of dumb,” but conceded that “if that’s what they have to do, that’s what they have to do.”

Harless doesn’t agree with the government spending money on pre-letters.

“There’s no need for my taxpayer dollars to go for something like that,” she said.

U.S. Census forms are expected to arrive in the mail next week.

Census officials say if people don't respond within two to three weeks, a reminder will be mailed to them.

Census workers will start knocking on doors of those who fail to return the form by the end of April.


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  • BraveHeart Mar 11, 2010

    yes..that money could have been spent elsewhere...lots of folks know the census is coming...they have been advertising all year and part of last year...they even said that you could work with them even if you receive unemployment benefits..but on the other hand that seems to be a dangerous job ..going to some strangers home and interviewing them

  • wildcat Mar 10, 2010

    I believe this was a waste of money in sending the no-nonsense mail to all. They should have just sent the census and let that be it.

  • Bendal1 Mar 10, 2010

    The census records from 72+ years ago are available online and show the same data they're asking now. There's way too much paranoia and conspiracists running around for our own good today.

  • jrfergerson Mar 10, 2010

    Now the postal service will not have to close on Saturdays. The government just gave them some business with the pre census notices. Other than that those letters were a waste of taxpayers monies. oh well I guess the government has gotta give them something to do for the hourly pay they are giveing them. just about better than I make an hr and I been at my job quite a few years. Awaiting my form to fill out and mail back (I might just keep it and present it to the person that is working for the census when they come. oh no then I would be depriving the PO of their share of the funds. my my a visious cycle we weave

  • colinbaddressbiz Mar 10, 2010

    I'll be submitting a comment on this topic very soon. Please be ready for my comment.

  • paddie Mar 10, 2010

    according to variousGood, Shut off your mind. Open the envelope, fill out all information the government asks because the government is good and trustworthy and everyone should not question such a good and wonderful government. Tell them everything they want to know. Do not question! (insert eyeroll)

  • tpbwetland Mar 10, 2010

    Where was my Pre- Pre Census letter? Even as a registered progressive, I am appalled at the pre-Census letter. We could have used the 85 million on better things, like filling the empty coffers of the Highway Trust Fund, paying down debt, or paying for our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • paddie Mar 10, 2010

    mjeffrey, the 10 questions I received also include wanting to know ages AND birth dates. Sorry TMI IMO. Also, the director of the Census Bureau usually reports to the Secretary of Commerce, which would be NH Senator Judd Gregg. BUT along abouts Feb 10, 20009 the White House took control of the Census. Guess who the director reports to now? Rahm Emmanuel.

  • Stephinnc Mar 10, 2010

    Typical government

  • mjeffrey Mar 10, 2010

    paddie, the Legislative branch (article I) writes the laws, and the executive branch (Article II) carries out the laws passed by congress. Congress has, using its Article I powers, given the authority to carry out the Census to the Commerce Department (department that oversees Census Bureau).