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Ten Interesting Facts about the US 2010 Census

We have compiled a list of the ten most interesting facts about the US 2010 census that everyone should know:

  1. The US census is conducted every ten years. The 2010 Census is the 23rd census in American history.  The first US census was conducted on Monday August 2, 1790. It was done by federal marshals canvassing people door-to-door.

  2. There were only ten questions in the 2010 census and the questionnaire could easily be completed in ten minutes. This made it one of the shortest census questionnaires in American history.  The questions were surprisingly similar to census questions of the early 1800s (basic questions such as name, age, gender, race and relationship to the person filling out the form).

  3. Apparently, people don’t mind splashing intimate details of the personal lives on Facebook but they refuse to answer basic questions posed by their own government. The Census Bureau estimates that only about two-thirds of households sent back completed census forms without prompting.

  4. The 2010 census is estimated to have cost about $11.8 billion. That works out to approximately $39 for every man, woman and child living in the country. Want to know why the 2010 census costs so much money?  Because people don’t return their census forms.  The cost to the government if households mail back their census questionnaire: 42 cents per household. The cost to the government to send out census workers to track down wayward households who do not send back their forms: $56 per household. 

  5. A total of 360 million census questionnaire forms were printed for an estimated population of 308 million Americans. Collectively, the forms weighed 11.6 million pounds.  If the forms were stacked in one pile they would reach 29 miles high.  That is more than five times higher than Mount Everest.
  6. Every one of the 360 million pieces of census mail sent to every house had a unique barcode.  This allowed the Census Bureau to track individual questionnaires through the mail in real time. If you didn’t bother returning your questionnaire, he Census Bureau would know if the form wasn't in the mail.
  7. The Census Bureau has a cool website where you can see how many census questionnaires had been returned.  The results are superimposed on a Google map.  The results can be seen by city, town, state and postal code. [Click here]
  8. Which groups of people are the least likely to complete the census questionnaire?  The list includes illegal immigrants, Hispanics, young adults, city dwellers and people displaced by foreclosure.
  9. Which states tend to have the highest census participation rates? The District of Columbia, Vermont, Alaska, New York and Massachusetts residents are all very good at returning their census forms.  The states best at completing and returning census forms tend to be in the northern part of the country.
  10. Which states tend to have the lowest census participation rates? For the 2000 census it was Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and North Carolina.  The states worst at completing and returning census forms tend to be in the southern part of the country.

For more interesting facts on the US 2010 census and previous US censuses, see this article.