Mississippi returns 67 percent of Census questionnaires

WASHINGTON, DC (U.S. CENSUS BUREAU) - Sixty-seven percent of Mississippi households have returned their 2010 Census questionnaires, a rate that matches the 2000 Census mail-back rate.

Overall, U.S. households matched their 2000 mail participation rate of 72 percent.

Additionally, 46 out of 83 Mississippi counties have met or exceeded their 2000 mail participation rates.

Nineteen of those counties exceeded their 2000 mail participation rates by 10 percentage points or more.

Pearl River County, Walthall County and Prentiss County bested their 2000 performance by 12 percentage points.

Still, the state's four largest cities report mail participation significantly below their 2000 rates. Three counties, Issaqena, Claiborne and Jefferson, have rates of 20 percentage points or more below their 2000 rate.

It costs 42 cents per household to mail back a Census questionnaire, but an average $57 per household when Census workers must go door-to-door to collect the information in person.

The Census Bureau saves about $85 million in operational costs for every percentage point increase in the nation's participation rate by mail.

The Census workers who will hit the streets in May must be trained and undergo a criminal background check. Additionally, it usually takes several visits for a Census enumerator to catch someone at home who is authorized to provide the information to answer the few simple questions included in the 2010 Census form.

Census figures 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.

Following up door-to-door to count households from May to July will require hiring about 700,000 census workers.

Those workers will likely have been hired from the neighborhood, will carry a Census identification card, have Census questionnaires and a confidentiality notice.