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Date of Issue: March 17, 2010

Census surveys arriving in Anna Maria

Anna Maria residents are among the first in the area to receive U.S. Census questionnaires — because Anna Maria residents collect their mail at the post office.

Most of the nation’s 120 million households — about 90 percent of the U.S. population – will receive the 10-question forms by mail later this month. But thousands of Census workers were hand-delivering surveys to about 12 million U.S. addresses, including the northernmost Island city and the village of Cortez, because federal law requires that the questionnaires go directly to residences.

The first surveys — which are confidential — were distributed to Anna Maria homes earlier this month, with Census workers promising to knock again if the forms are not returned within the month.

“Regardless of whether your census form gets dropped off at your front door or you receive it within a few weeks in your mailbox, it’s important that you fill it out and mail it back as soon as possible,” U.S. Census Bureau director Robert Groves said. “With only 10 questions, the 2010 Census should take about 10 minutes to complete.”

Though the forms were being hand-delivered in Anna Maria and Cortez, respondents are to mail them back to the bureau, just like respondents in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach.

While it costs the bureau less than 50 cents for each envelope mailed back, “The Census Bureau will spend about $25 per person if we have to go out and knock on the doors of households that don’t mail them back,” Groves said.

The 2010 Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

Data from the count is used to apportion congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funding to state and local governments, and to guide decisions about community services.

This year’s questionnaire is one of the shortest in U.S. history, in part due to addition of other surveys conducted by the Census Bureau.

Census enthusiasts who want to track their community’s response to the survey can follow the change in participation rates at using zip codes.

In 2000, the participation rate in Anna Maria, which has the zip code 34216, was 63-68 percent. The participation rate for the 34217 community, which includes Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, was 39-44 percent.