I filled out our family’s U.S. Census form and mailed it back. What a good citizen I am. I guess.
I happen to be a census geek, digging around different data tables, trying different queries. The census is a goldmine for data about the United States and local communities. It provides a picture of who we are, where we come from, and how we live.
Cities are particularly keen on making sure the census gets accurate numbers of the people who live within their borders. There are big bucks at stake, which are especially crucial for geographic areas in these tough economic times.
“When you fill out your 2010 census form, you help determine how more than $400 billion a year is distributed to communities," the census website says. On Walnut Creek’s website it reads: “Census participation is important, especially in today's tight economic environment, because per-capita federal funding is tied to census count. Our community stands to lose about $11,450 in federal funding for each person who goes uncounted.”
So far, on National Census Day, Walnut Creek’s participation stands at only 59 percent. We might have our very civic-minded residents of Rossmoor to thank for scoring just a bit better than the 52-percent national participation rate. According to the Contra Costa Times, more than 75 percent of households in the Walnut Creek retirement community already have mailed back their 2010 census forms, the highest rate of any Bay Area neighborhood.
The city as a whole is doing a bit better than those bigger slackers in San Ramon (52 percent); Danville (57 percent); Pleasant Hill (55 percent); Martinez (57 percent); and Concord (51 percent). But we’re not keeping up with those Lamorinda overachievers: Lafayette, 61 percent; Orinda, 61 percent; and Moraga, 63 percent. You can view this map to see how communities are doing.
Those Lamorinda numbers are up there with the top five states in census participation rates: the Dakotas, North and South; Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa. (To be snarky, one might say that there’s not a lot else to do in some parts of those states than to fill out a Census form. )
You can view maps showing regions and communities and their participation rates at the U.S. Census website.
Starting in May, federal census workers will start walking the streets, visiting the homes of those who have not completed their forms.
If you didn’t receive a Census form in the mail, and want to avoid that visit and participate in this once-in-a-decade count, you can pick up forms in the City Hall lobby, 1666 North Main Street.