Local News

Wake County Census Manager Urges Residents To Fill Out Forms

Posted March 14, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— One in every six homes receives the long-formcensus, and plenty of people are suspicious why the government needs to know so much about their business.

If Uncle Sam knows people's ethnicity, housing status, education and income, it will help determine where federal programs and $1 trillion in tax money should be directed over the next ten years.

Wake County Census Manager Ray Whitsell says when the government knows what and when we drive or whether we ride the bus, it helps plan for future road and transportation needs.

"Not only should you think about yourself, you should think about your children," Whitsell says. "They're the ones who are going to benefit from the information you put on the form."

All of the information from the census is kept confidential. Anyone who divulges information about a census faces a $5,000 fine or five years in prison.

"It cannot be given to the FBI, IRS, legal authorities, not even the President of the United States will have access to the information you give us," Whitsell says.

There is another incentive to fill out the form. If people do not mail their form in, chances are census takers will come to their homes in April or May to get the information in person.

Failure to fill out a census form can be costly for everyone.

It is estimated that North Carolina lost $70 million in federal money because of inaccurate census information taken in 1990. In addition, the government will spend $25 million tracking down information for every one percent of the public that does not fill out the census.