Census returns take a dip

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2010

NATCHEZ — Fewer Miss-Lou residents mailed back their Census forms this year than in 2000.

Overall returns for Concordia Parish dropped 4 percent to 52 percent, and Adams County dropped from 71 percent to 67 percent. Vidalia’s rate of return dropped 10 points, while Natchez’s rates only fell by 2 percent.

The state of Mississippi as a whole matched its 2000 rate of 67 percent. Among the worst performers was Fayette, which dropped to 38 percent, a decrease of more than 20 percent.

Natchez resident Brian Marvel said he was a Census returner.

“I read and understood that it was important to not just me, but to everyone in the surrounding area,” he said. “I was doing my part.”

Natchez resident Tiffany Reason said she filled it out, but her sister did not.

“I just figured I should,” Reason said.

Others looked at the 2010 Census form as a piece of junk mail and threw it away, such as Deanna Pfeifer of Cannonsburg.

“I just have never filled it out,” she said. “I guess I’m just not educated on its importance.”

Census figures, which are collected from a 10-question form, are used to allocate congressional seats among the states and are a factor in the disbursement of more than $400 billion annually for schools, highways and other public services.

Natchez resident Mike Blattner said he filled the out partly for civic duty and partly because he thought it would be worse if he waited for them to knock on his door, which will start happening in May and end in July.

“I took a few minutes out of my time to fill it out,” he said. “It wasn’t so painful.”

A high mail response rate saves the taxpayer money — it costs 42 cents per house by mail, as opposed to approximately $57 per house when Census workers go door-to-door.

The Census Bureau will hire approximately 700,000 workers to go door-to-door to collect the information.