Monday, January 25, 2010

CENSUS NEWS BRIEF - No. 83 - January 24, 2010


January 24, 2010 - No. 83

In this issue

Census Bureau Kicks Off 2010 Promotion Campaign

Advocates Ramp Up Outreach Activities

New Bill Would Tighten Census Hiring Rules

The Rest of the News ...

New Resources for Census Advocates








The Census Bureau formally launched its massive promotion and paid advertising campaign this month, with a road tour that will stop at major national events and local activities in each census region and with advertisements hitting the national airwaves during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Census Director Robert Groves announced the start of the "Portrait of American" Road Tour on The Today Show on January 4. The goal, they said, is to let Americans know that the census is coming, that participation is easy, and that they should mail back their forms. It is "very important that everyone be fully counted," Secretary Locke told Today co-host Meredith Viera, while Dr. Groves said the biggest misconception about the census is that it is "boring and long," adding that mailing back the form "is the safe thing to do."

The national road tour -- expected to cover 150,000 miles -- will travel to prominent national events such as the Super Bowl and NASCAR races, while 12 smaller vehicles will stop at local events in each of the Census Bureau's regions. The regional vehicles have been coordinating stops with local officials and community-based groups that are partnering with the Census Bureau to promote census participation. Census staff will be blogging and tweeting from road tour stops. All road tour schedules are posted on an interactive map on the 2010 census web site (Census Road Tour Census Road Tour .)

Advertising campaign aims to boost awareness: The Census Bureau began a $133 million paid media campaign, hoping to increase the mail-back rates with ads in 28 languages across television, radio, print publications, outdoor locations, and the Internet. CBS sportscaster James Brown joined Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank, Dr. Groves, and representatives of national partner organizations to unveil the advertisements and show off the 2010 census-sponsored NASCAR vehicle at a Census Bureau event on January 14.

The Census Bureau said its plan "represents the most extensive and diverse outreach campaign in U.S. history" and is designed to reach the average person 42 times over the course of the enumeration. The focus on raising awareness will shift to motivational messages when census forms are mailed or hand-delivered to most American homes in March, and targeted ads urging cooperation with census takers will start when door-to-door visits to unresponsive households begin in May. The Census Bureau saves $80 - $90 million in follow-up costs for each one percent of households that return their census forms by mail.

Census count starts this week in Alaska: The 2010 census count starts on January 25 with enumeration of the Inupiat Eskimo village in Noorvik, Alaska. Director Groves will be on hand to help launch the enumeration in Native Alaskan villages, which the bureau must count earlier than most American communities because residents disperse for hunting and fishing after the still-frozen ground begins to thaw, making access to the villages difficult.

The Native areas are counted using the "Update-Enumerate" operation, during which census takers visit homes to update the address list by confirming the location of each housing unit and then enumerate residents on the spot. The procedure is used in other remote areas of the country, including American Indian reservations, where it is difficult to compile accurate address lists.

Rural communities where homes do not have city-style addresses (e.g. 123 Main Street) are counted using the "Update-Leave" operation, when census workers will visit homes to update the address list, add missing addresses they might uncover, and leave questionnaires for residents to mail back. Update-Leave procedures also will be used in several counties along the Gulf Coast still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and in some communities where residents only receive mail at Post Office boxes (census forms will not be delivered to P.O. boxes). The Update-Leave operation starts March 1, while Update-Enumerate starts in most areas on March 22.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched its Yes We Count census campaign on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, in an effort to mobilize grassroots organizations in Black communities. The civil rights group is focused on raising awareness about the upcoming count, encouraging house parties, phone banking, and door-to-door canvassing in hard-to-count census tracts in 11 states and six metropolitan areas. The NAACP will target youth and college students through a program starting February 22, focusing on colleges with significant Black student populations, and will reach out to senior citizens the last weekend in February.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund and its four national census partners -- the NAACP, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) -- are planning a National Week of Action from March 22 - 28. Grassroots organizations and faith institutions will conduct a wide range of activities to encourage people in historically hard-to-count communities to mail back their census forms. The Leadership Conference developed posters, signs, and palm cards posters, signs, and palm cards for census-related King Day events.

The Unity Diaspora Coalition, a collaborative effort of organizations focused on native-born and immigrant Black communities, is planning events for Black History Month to promote the 2010 census.

Broward County, Florida and other municipalities organized a "Paint the Town Red" day on January 5, encouraging all county employees to wear red to promote awareness of the census. County workers also include the census logo on all business e-mail communications they send, to draw attention to the upcoming count.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) will kick-off its 2010 census campaign with a discussion and reception on January 28 at 4:00PM at the group's office (1732 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC). The event will feature remarks by Philadelphia Regional Census Director Fernando Armstrong and Arab American Institute Foundation Executive Director Helen Samhan, a long time member of the Census Bureau's decennial census advisory committee. All organizations are welcome to attend; RSVP to Abed Ayoub at

Groups representing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will organize census activities in conjunction with the Lunar New Year in February, while NALEO and other Latino advocacy and faith groups participating in the ya es hora ¡HAGASE CONTAR¡ campaign are planning events in conjunction with Cesar Chavez Day on March 31.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce became the 150,000th 2010 Census Partner earlier this month, pledging to encourage census participation through its three million member businesses. The Chamber is a member of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee. According to the Census Bureau, the number of 2010 census partner organizations has exceeded the number in 2000, the first year of the program; 99 percent of partners are at the local level.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is planning a Census Awareness Day for February 27. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition will promote the 2010 census through churches, asking ministers to spread the message to their congregations.


Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), a member of the House census oversight subcommittee, introduced legislation on January 21 that would prohibit individuals convicted of any crime or facing pending charges for any crime from serving as census enumerators. H.R. 4484 defines "crime" as "any criminal offense other than a minor traffic offense."

In a press statement, Rep. Chaffetz said that enumerators with criminal records "can have serious detrimental effects on the American people's confidence in the Census. The safety and security of Americans in their homes are at stake." The congressman said he asked the Census Bureau last fall for data on the number of temporary employees hired for the 2010 census with criminal offenses on their records but did not receive the information. Subsequent meetings with Census Bureau and FBI staff, Rep. Chaffetz said, indicated that people convicted of "'certain' property crimes; minimal marijuana use; prostitution; Peeping Tom (unless it leads to sex offender registration); and DUI" would not be disqualified from 2010 census jobs. Enumerators are sent door-to-door starting in May, to collect information from households that do not respond to the census by mail or telephone.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in an October 2009 report (GAO-10-132T) that "fingerprinting during [Spring 2009] address canvassing was problematic," noting that 22 percent of 162,000 address canvassing staff had "unclassifiable prints that the FBI could not process" due to poor quality. Of those, the GAO said, more than 200 workers "might have had [disqualifying] criminal records." The Census Bureau was taking steps, the GAO noted, to improve the finger-printing process. Rep. Chaffetz said the GAO report prompted his concern about the hiring of people with criminal histories.

Census Director Groves issued a statement on October 13, emphasizing that 2010 census job applicants must undergo an FBI name background check and, for the first time, a fingerprint check. "Our goal is clear: Americans must be confident that if ... a census taker must come to their door to count them, we've taken steps to ensure their safety." Census informational materials do not specifically say which criminal convictions would make an applicant ineligible for employment.

The Chaffetz bill, which currently has no cosponsors, was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.


Survey on census attitudes: A new survey by the Pew Research Center revealed that most Americans have a positive view of the decennial census, with 90 percent of people saying the census is "very" or "somewhat" important and 80 percent reporting that they will "definitely" or "probably" participate. The Center conducted the survey for People & the Press in early January, a week before the Census Bureau launched its multi-million dollar paid advertising campaign that will blanket television, radio, print, and social media from now through the spring.

The survey also found that about one in six Americans (16 percent) "might not" or "will not" answer the census; more than a third of those people said they had not heard of the census, indicating the importance of the awareness phase of the promotional campaign now underway. The Pew report says lack of knowledge about the census is highest among young adults and Hispanics, but at least two-thirds of each group is aware of the upcoming count and more than four in five report that they are familiar with the census after it is described to them.

The Pew Research Center is a "a nonpartisan 'fact tank' that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does not take positions on policy issues." The full report and survey results are available through the Pew Research Center's web site at "Most View Census Positively, But Some Have Doubts."

Black leaders issue statement on census race question: The leaders of three civil rights organizations issued a statement earlier this month on use of the word "Negro" on the 2010 census race question, seeking to address concerns that the Census Bureau was not sensitive to cultural preferences in the Black community. Wade Henderson (Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights), Melanie Campbell (National Coalition on Black Civic Participation), and Benjamin Jealous (NAACP) said in their January 13 statement that the 2010 census is a "critical civil rights issue" and that "fair political representation and access to a fair share of the nation's public and private resources are riding on the 2010 count."

The leaders noted that the census race question includes a category for "Black, African American, or Negro" and that the Census Bureau included the latter word in large part because more than 56,000 respondents checked off "Some Other Race" in the 2000 census and wrote in "Negro." Their organizations commended the Bureau for "using the 2010 census as a test-bed for alternative wording on the questions" for future enumerations and the ongoing American Community Survey.

The three organizations issued their statement after, a web site focused on African American news and commentary, posted an article questioning the decision to include the word "Negro" in 2010 (it appeared on the census forms in 1990 and 2000, as well), raising alarm bells in some Black communities around the country. The article's author, David Wilson, subsequently appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC) on January 6.

Better Business Bureau victim of census scam: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Americans about a phony e-mail that purports to be from the consumer-business mediation group. The message, circulating on the Internet, cautions against sharing personal information such as social security and bank account numbers with people claiming to be census takers, but also tells people that they only have to provide the number of people in their household. Federal law requires respondents to answer all questions on the census.

Last fall, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) made news by saying in several interviews that she would only answer the census question on the number of people in her home. In a press statement on its web site, the BBB urged Americans to "get the facts" about how to identify census takers and assured people that the "census is safe."


✍ The Census Project is now on Facebook. Go to to see the weekly blog, become a fan, and follow Census Project activities.

✍ The Census Bureau has launched a new 2010 census web site in Spanish, "to demonstrate to the Hispanic community that participation is easy, important and safe," according to the announcement of the site's launch last week.

✍ The Arab American Institute, a member of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, has issued an Arab American Toolkit for the 2010 census. The toolkit includes resources in English and Arabic to help community leaders conduct outreach and promote participation in the count. Go to AAI's web site to download a kit; an on-line version, which AAI will update to reflect new activities, also is available.

✍ The Pew Research Center has launched a new web page, All Things Census, featuring information about census methods, resources, and findings. Senior Writer D'Vera Cohn, a former Washington Post reporter who covered census issues, is overseeing the new Pew resource, which includes an audio recording of Census Director Groves' remarks at the Center earlier this month.

✍ The Brookings Institution has issued updated national tables showing the allocation of Fiscal Year 2008 federal program funds based in whole or in part on census data. Brookings analyzed census-driven federal assistance programs by state, by program, and by program function. The new analysis shows that almost $438 billion was distributed to states, counties, and localities through 212 programs using data derived from the decennial census. The average national per capita expenditure was $1,440. The updated tables are available on The Census Project web site under Fact Sheets. The Brookings Institution will issue a full report next month on the FY2008 analysis, including program-by-program allocation tables for all states and the 200 largest counties and metropolitan areas.


2010 Census Web Site: The Census Bureau's new 2010 census web site offers useful basic information on the census process, as well as sample questionnaires, information on job opportunities, and in-language materials. Add it to your "Bookmarks" bar to track mail response rates daily for your state and locality starting in late March.

2010 Census Web Site in Spanish: New official 2010 census Spanish language web site.

The Census Project : Visit the Census Project web site for previous Census News Briefs, fact sheets, and a weekly blog in support of an accurate 2010 census.

Leadership Conference Education Fund: The LCEF 2010 Census campaign offers fact sheets, a toolkit, data on the census undercount, and promotional materials to reach historically hard-to-count communities.

Nonprofits Count: The Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network's 2010 census campaign features fact sheets, a toolkit, posters and swag, and state-specific resources to help nonprofits promote census participation.

ya es hora ¡HAGASE CONTAR¡: Resources and promotional materials, in Spanish and English, targeting the Latino population.

National Urban League: This Census Information Center web page includes links to demographic information on the Black population, job opportunities, and other 2010 census materials.

Asian American Justice Center : Resources and information, including in-language census forms, targeting the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations.

Indian Country Counts : Region-specific information, events, job listings, and tools for the American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, an independent legislative and policy consultant specializing in the census and federal statistics. All views expressed in the News Briefs are solely those of the author. Please direct questions about the information in this News Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at Please feel free to circulate this document to other interested individuals and organizations. Ms. Lowenthal is a consultant to the nonpartisan Census Project, organized by the Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC. Previous Census News Briefs are posted at


1 comment:

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