Half of Nevadans have yet to fill out 2010 census
Today is the official count day for the 2010 U.S. Census and nearly half of Nevadans have already filled out their form and sent it in.
According to the U.S. Census Web site, however, Nevada is behind most Western states in getting those forms returned. The state had a 49 percent return rate as of Wednesday compared to 53 percent in Utah and Oregon, 52 percent in Washington, 58 percent in Idaho and 55 percent in Montana.
Secretary of State Ross Miller, who is spearheading the effort to convince Nevadans to report, said every missed person costs the state an estimated $917 a year in federal funding. The census numbers are used to determine how much money each state receives in a long list of federal entitlement and grant programs. During the next decade, he said that’s nearly $10,000 in lost funding per person.
“A lot of the game at this point is less nudging people to turn it in but trying to defuse some of the misinformation out there,” said Miller.
He said a segment of the population believes the census violates their privacy rights.
Miller said the census is prohibited from giving any specific information about people to anyone including other federal agencies. He said if people don’t fill out the 10-question form, “all it means is $10,000 is going to go to California instead of Nevada.”
Miller said Nevada has a tougher challenge than most other states. Not only does the state have a high transient rate, it has the nation’s highest foreclosure rate.
“That’s going to be a challenge for us,” he said.
He said even if a family is squatting illegally in a house, they can complete the form with confidence since that information “won’t be shared with anybody who can enforce those laws.”
The homeless, he said, are being tracked by federal census workers who are going to shelters to do head counts.
The first census forms arrived at Nevada homes a couple of weeks ago. Miller said for those who didn’t get one then, another form should be arriving in the mail next week. If people still don’t fill it out, he said census takers hired by the U.S. Census will begin knocking on doors in May and June.
He said those who need a form also can go to nevada
census2010.com and get a form sent to them.
Miller said it only takes a few minutes to fill out the form and that, once people see it, they won’t be nearly as concerned about the information they are providing. Census officials have repeatedly pointed out that people give more detailed information when they fill out a warranty card for a kitchen appliance than they do the census form.
In Nevada, Carson City and Churchill County are the highest reporting counties so far with 61 percent of forms returned. Lyon and Storey are right behind at 60 percent. Douglas and Washoe residents returned 54 percent of forms so far.
The counties with the lowest percentage returned as of Wednesday were Esmeralda with just 24 percent and Eureka with 31 percent. Clark County, where nearly 70 percent of Nevadans live, was at 47 percent.
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