Utah ahead of curve on census returns, but many forms outstanding

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SALT LAKE CITY -- According to Utah's Census Office, Utah is slightly ahead of the national average on census form returns. But census takers want to be sure everyone participates.

Census Top 5 National Participation Rate

State Percentage
Minnesota 66%
South Dakota65%
Iowa 67%
<a href=http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map>2010 Census.gov</a>

Census Office Manager Todd Hansen said Utah is seeing a good response rate, but they want more.

"If we are not counted in Utah, we are taking money away from them and it is going somewhere else," Hansen said.

And Utah won't get the congressional representation we deserve. In 2000 Hansen says we narrowly missed out on a fourth seat in Congress because not everyone was counted.

The census count also determines Utah school district boundaries,

Still, myths and rumors about the census are circulating and may be stopping people from filling out the forms.

Census officials want to assure people that they will not get thrown in jail or deported if they don't return the census form, but they will get a visit from a census official within the next couple weeks, encouraging them to fill out the 10-question form.

As of April 5, 56% of Utah households have mailed back the survey form; in 2000 Utah had a 72% participation rate.

Here's some of the excuses Hansen says his office gets for people not filling it out: My dog ate it, I threw it away because I didn't know what it was, my child drew all over it, or simply, I can't find it.

"If for some reason you have misplaced the form or don't have one you can send in, a census worker will come to your door in the next couple months," Hansen said.

If people are discouraged by the length of the form, there are no long forms in the 2010 census like in years past. The long forms have been replaced by other surveys done by the government.

Other more serious reasons for not filling it out: "Paranoia or anti-government sentiment, which you know there's a lot of nowadays," Hansen said. "There are some people who don't want to participate with anything the government does."

But, Hansen assures Utahns, "All of the data is kept confidential for 72 years. It cannot be used for any other government or private agency or private individual for 72 years."

Only then is the information released for genealogical reasons.

"The data is perfectly safe to fill out," Hansen said.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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Amanda Butterfield


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