2010 census: especially important to military families
January 25, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 25, 2010) -- With about $400 billion a year in federal funds at stake, the 2010 census may prove especially important for the thousands of Army families who have relocated since 2000 as a result of Base Realignment and Closure, said a 2010 census media specialist.
The larger the concentration of families in and around the installations that have experienced growth, the larger the support system has to be to accommodate them, said Robert Crockett, also a retired Army sergeant first class.
In addition to being a "snapshot of America," the census is a device by which federal funds are returned to the states and congressional seats are distributed to accommodate state's changing needs, he said.
Military families living in areas that have experienced significant growth may see the direct and indirect benefits of their participation in the census through, for example, larger schools, hospitals, roads, housing for elderly, and job training. States that have grown in population since 2000 could also gain congressional seats after the 2010 census, said Crockett.
With only 10 questions, the 2010 census is the shortest to date. However, with so many servicemembers deployed, military families in particular may still have questions regarding how to answer certain questions, he said.
The first question on the census is, "How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010'"
"If a spouse is overseas, then that person receiving the questionnaire should not count the spouse that is overseas. That spouse overseas would be part of an overseas enumeration," and he or she will be listed by their home state, said Crockett.
"If your spouse is on a military vessel with a U.S. homeport, then they should be counted as part of your household. If your spouse is on a military vessel from a foreign homeport, then they should not be counted as part of your household," he said.
Military families stateside will receive the census form in the mail just like everyone else.
Servicemembers and their families located overseas will not receive a form. The Defense Manpower Data Center will provide records to the Census Bureau for servicemembers and military families overseas, based on home of record.
Families stateside who do not return the form within the indicated time will receive repeated notifications from the Census Bureau. Then if the forms are still not received, families can expect a knock on the door from a census worker.
If someone is apprehensive about speaking with a stranger, they can ask to see the identification card that all census workers must and will carry, Crockett said, or a phone number to their supervisor.
He said the military community might be surprised to learn that the census is the largest mobilization of resources that the nation undertakes.
"There is nothing in the United States that compares with the census effort, this effort to count everyone, only once and in the right place. We have to hire a temporary force of over a million people. That's roughly the equivalent to the entire population of Hawaii, and we are setting out to count well over 130 million people," he said.
While participation in the census is required by law, Crockett points out that all answers are protected.
"The census is not intrusive... it's protected by law and none of this information is shared with any other agency whatsoever," he said.
Those who have filled out a census form in years past may notice differences. Based on findings that suggest the simpler the form, the higher the participation, the 2010 census form is limited to the most fundamental questions, Crockett said.
The more detailed questions asked in the past are now asked on the American Community Survey. Sent to a random sample of addresses on a monthly basis, the American Community Survey takes a more detailed look at what America wants and needs, Crockett said.
The American census was first conducted in 1790, and was the first census in history used to empower the people. It is repeated every 10 years.
For more information on the 2010 census, visit <a href="http://www.census.gov/" target=Aca,!A?_blank">www.census.gov</a>. Follow the link to the 2010 page for frequently asked questions and a host of interactive activities, including testimonials and trackers that allow you to follow your community's return rate.