February 09, 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau began mailing advance letters to about 120 million addresses nationwide, notifying households that 2010 Census forms will be arriving March 15-17. The one-page letter urges households to complete the 10-question census form when it arrives and to return it in the accompanying prepaid envelope as soon as possible.

“The advance letter helps people know that their 2010 Census form will be arriving soon,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. “It’s an important reminder about the impact the census has on our communities, that the census is important and that everyone needs to participate.”

Census Bureau research shows that reaching out to respondents with an advance letter and reminder postcard if necessary can boost census mail-back rates and save money. For every 1 percent increase in households that respond by mail, taxpayers save about $85 million in operational costs associated with census takers going door to door to follow up with households that did not mail back the form.

The more than 120 million households that receive both the advance letter and 2010 Census form by mail represent about 90 percent of all residential addresses in the country. Census workers last week started hand-delivering census forms to another 9 percent of addresses in areas where many households lack traditional city-style postal addresses.
Hand-delivery of 2010 Census forms is also occurring along hurricane-affected areas of the Gulf Coast. Less than 1 percent of households are in areas where it’s more efficient for census takers to conduct census interviews rather than drop-off and require mail-back of the form.

The advance letter includes messaging in five languages other than English (Spanish, Chinese [simplified], Korean, Vietnamese and Russian) directing people to visit the 2010 Web site for in-language assistance. For the first time in U.S. census history, the Census Bureau is sending a bilingual advance letter and form to more than 13 million households in areas where Spanish is predominantly spoken at home.

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