Press Editorial

March 16, 2010

By Staff

The census count should matter to you

Look in your mailbox this week for your household’s census count.

Oh, that’s right, you already know about that, thanks to last week’s letter notifying you that another letter is coming. That first letter cost $57 million to send, in hopes that fewer in-person census takers will be needed.

The Census Bureau is employing other marketing tools to pump up awareness, including a televised Super Bowl ad last month, printed ads in 28 languages and subtle referrals to www.census.gov printed inside fortune cookies — including some found here in Issaquah.

As one commenter on a Web site posting said, “Leave it to the government to trip over a dollar to pick up a dime.” But those dimes do matter, especially to local governments trying to provide your basic water, sewer, roads and public safety services.

Consider what it means to the city of Issaquah. Every resident who is not counted will be about $1,400 less for the city. If 25 households of three people each did not respond, that could be more than $100,000 the city would not get from the estimated $400 billion in federal allocations.

Is the census an invasion of privacy? We don’t think so. This year’s census is one of the shortest in history, only 10 quick questions that should take less than 10 minutes to answer.

It asks households to provide the names of residents and their sex, age, date of birth, race, whether they’re of Hispanic origin, their relationship to the householder, whether the home is owned or rented, and a telephone number. The form does not ask about citizenship or legal status, or your Social Security number. And the information is confidential.

In addition to money for our cities and county, the census is used to determine the number of seats our state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. States with shrinking populations could lose a seat, whereas Washington could be entitled to an additional seat.

Give up 10 minutes of your time and complete the census form when it arrives this week. Do your part to stop government waste by turning it in without a second request.

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