The U.S. Census is underway in Cape May County and across the nation. This massive undertaking is being conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, with the assistance of local government entities such as Cape May County.
Freeholder Leonard Desiderio and the Cape May County Planning Department are coordinating the local Census awareness campaign with the assistance of the “Cape May County Complete Count Committee”. This group is made up of representatives from local community groups and municipal governments, as well as County departments that have the most contact with the public, such as the County Clerk and Department on Aging. Chairperson Desiderio said, “Its mission is to reach out into all areas of our local communities to make our residents know how important it is to be counted in Cape May County.”
“The results of the 2010 Census will be used by the federal government to distribute approximately $4 trillion in aid over the next 10 years across the country. We want to be sure that Cape May County gets its fair share of those funds, so we’re pushing to get the message out: Be Counted!” said Freeholder Desiderio.
This year marks a dramatic change in the way that the Census is taken in that it is only a short 10-question form that will only take 10 minutes for people to complete. Participation in the Census is required by law, and results are fully confidential.
The Census is conducted through a series of events. First, questionnaires have been sent to all residences that have a street address. Any addresses that do not respond (including those addresses that use a P.O. Box instead of home delivery) will be placed on a list of “Non-responsive addresses”. Those properties will receive a visit from a Census Enumerator (aka Census Taker) sometime in the late spring or early summer. The job of the enumerator is to speak to someone at the household and to record the same information that is requested on the Census Questionnaire. If no one is at the residence at the time that an Enumerator makes a visit, a flyer with information on the Census will be left at the house. Enumerators will make several attempts through July to gain information from every non-responsive address.
Anyone who has not yet received a form, or who misplaced his/her form can go to one of many “Be Counted” sites located throughout Cape May County. Questionnaires are available at these sites, as well as “drop boxes” for completed forms. Some of the “Be Counted” sites are located at “Questionnaire Assistance Centers”, which have Census employees on hand to provide aid to people with questions or concerns regarding the Census or the forms. A complete list of Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Centers is available through a link on the Planning Department webpage of the www.capemaycountygov.net website.
Despite the fact that many Cape May County residents have received their forms, the County as a whole has had a low response rate. As of April 1st, only 28% of households have participated in the Census by mailing back their forms. This compares to the State rate of 44% and the national rate of 46%. (source: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/) During the 2000 Census, the county achieved a 65% participation rate.
The Cape May County Complete Count Committee has been working for months to get the word out to residents in a grassroots initiative. “We have handed out flyers at seasonal flu clinics, distributed Census materials to each municipality, contacted churches to have Census information included in weekly bulletins, and have had speakers at dozens of community and business events. We have tried everything we can think of to let people know just how important their participation in the Census is to all of us here in Cape May County” said Freeholder Desiderio. “Now is the time for the people to take action. We want to encourage all of our residents to take the time to help their friends, family, neighbors, and community by completing and returning their Census forms as soon as possible.”
For more information or details on the Census, please contact the County Planning Department at 465-1080.