Just as soon as they arrived in the mail several weeks ago, more than half of Payson completed their census forms and mailed them back. According to a new Census Bureau Web site that tracks the participation rate of communities, 56 percent of Payson residents returned their forms as of Monday.
Star Valley residents appear to be taking slightly more time with the forms, with 53 percent of forms returned. Nationally, the response rate hovers at 46 percent.
Gila County and Arizona are doing slightly worse than the national average, with 39 percent of county and 45 percent of state forms returned.
Nearby towns of Camp Verde and Sedona are at 46 and 51 percent respectively. The top responding states so far are South Dakota with 58 percent, North Dakota and Nebraska tied at 57 percent and Iowa and Wisconsin at 54 percent.
“These first weeks are critical to the final census count,” U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “It’s absolutely vital that everyone takes the 10 minutes to fill out and mail back their forms. If every household mailed back its 2010 Census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of taking the census by $1.5 billion.”
Census forms began arriving in mailboxes March 15. A new tool offered through Google allows the Census Bureau and residents to track return rates.
The percentage rates are based on the number of forms mailed back, excluding “households whose forms were returned to us (the Census Bureau) by the U.S. Postal Service as “undeliverable,” according to the census’s Web site.
According to the census’ Web site, the emphasis on encouraging mail participation in the census is a practical one. For every percentage point increase in mail response, taxpayers save an estimated $85 million in federal funds. Those funds would otherwise be used to send census takers to collect responses in person from households that do not mail back the form.
After the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau returned $305 million in savings to the federal Treasury because mail rates exceeded expectations.
“I’d like nothing more than to return money to the taxpayers following this census because they mailed back the census forms at a record rate,” Groves said.
To track what percentage of forms is returned, visit www.2010.census.gov, which is updated daily.
Pick up a census form at the Star Valley Town Hall, 3632 E. Highway 260.
If you have questions about the census, visit an assistance center, which are open until April 19.
Centers are located in In Payson, at the Gila County Administration Building, 610 E. Highway 260, open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. In Pine, at the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library, 6124 N. Randall Place, open Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. In Roosevelt, at 352 N. Stagecoach Trail, open Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.