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City's census response rate tops state figure

April 29, 2010

So far, 83 percent of Wauwatosa residents have completed their 2010 census forms and returned the documents to the federal government via the mail.

That number is lower than the 2000 rate of 89 percent, according to numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday. However, it is higher than the national figure by 17 percentage points, the county number by 16 percentage points and the state number by 2 percentage points. Wisconsin had the highest response rate in the state.

Bureau officials expressed content with the numbers because overall the amount of Americans who will respond to surveys by mail has declined and there has been a growing distrust of the government that could have prevented feedback.

The data accumulated through the census process is used to determine the number of congressional seats and how to distribute federal funds to state and local governments.

These rates attempt to take into account the economy's impact on the housing market and the higher number of vacant housing compared with a decade ago. An updated number will be released in fall after census workers double check the occupancy status of all households that didn't return a census form or forms and addresses where forms were returned as "undeliverable."

This weekend, census takers will begin their door-to-door visits to obtain information from the households that didn't respond by mail. They will ask the 10 questions from the form and confidentiality laws protect the respondents and the information they provide. Not participating can result in criminal penalties.

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