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2010.04.06 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Nebraska Census Participation Good, But Relative Ranking Slips

Omaha - Two weeks after the initial look at how United States residents are returning their 2010 Census forms, Nebraska continues to be among the five best states regarding current participation rates. The latest “real time” data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that Nebraska is now tied for having the 5th best participation rate nationally, at 67 percent, after being tied for 2nd best last Monday.

Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Indiana have all surpassed Nebraska in Census participation during the last week. Wisconsin, as in 2000, leads the country in participation, currently with a 72 percent rate. Nebraska is now tied with Michigan and South Dakota, the latter having lead the nation in last Monday’s data release.

Participation is defined as the percentage of households that have returned the form out of those that received one. Forms undeliverable as addressed are removed from the calculation. The national participation rate currently stands at 60 percent.

The data are the first to possibly contain responses mailed in on April 1, the reference day for the 2010 Census. Residents who have not yet returned their form still have time and are urged to do so. Households that do not respond in the next two weeks (by around April 20) will require a census taker to come to their residence to obtain the needed information. The Census Bureau estimates that such follow-up costs taxpayers around $55 per visit, versus less than $1 for forms mailed in, making achieving high participation crucial. Starting Monday April 12 residents can request a replacement questionnaire or complete a census interview over the phone by calling a toll-free help line: 866-872-6868.

One concerning finding from the data is that Nebraska has a large differential between their current 2010 participation rate and the final one achieved in Census 2000. Nebraska is currently 12 percentage points below its final 2000 rate of 79 percent, meaning that compared to other high participation states, Nebraska has the farthest to go just to equal the response from 10 years ago.

Monday’s data showed the first Nebraska counties that have exceeded their 2000 participation. Burt, Merrick, Butler and Cedar counties now have a current participation rate higher than their final 2000 rate. Several other counties will undoubtedly top the rate from 10 years ago in upcoming days, but concerns exist for many counties, some of which are more than 15 percentage points below the 2000 rate, most notably Box Butte (Alliance) and Red Willow (McCook).

Five Nebraska counties are tied for having the state’s best participation rate at 78 percent. They include Butler, Cedar, Fillmore, Jefferson, and Hamilton. One Nebraska community, Strang in Fillmore County, now has achieved full census participation—all of the roughly 20 households in the village have returned the 2010 Census form.

Among Nebraska’s largest cities, Hastings and Columbus lead in participation at 75 and 73 percent respectively. Omaha and Norfolk have relatively low rates in the mid 60s; Norfolk and Papillion have the largest differential in their past two census rates, each needing to gain 17 percentage points to tie their 2000 participation.

Advances in computer software and mail tracking technology have made these data available for the first time in the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau will be updating the information daily as part of its “Take 10” challenge, urging residents to take 10 minutes to complete the 10 simple questions on the census form. Census participation is easy, safe, and important as all information is held strictly confidential by law and helps to reapportion state and local political boundaries and distribute more than $400 billion annually in federal funds to local programs.

For more information or to view participation rate data online, visit the “Take 10” census website: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/ Data is even available for neighborhoods, many of which will be holding “March to the Mailbox” events on or around April 10th as a final push to get residents to mail in their form. Additional information can be viewed on the Center for Public Affairs Research website: http://www.unomaha.edu/cpar

The Center for Public Affairs Research is an analytical community outreach unit of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service. The Center leads the Nebraska State Data Center, compiling and disseminating various data for Nebraska and its communities that add to policy-making discussions.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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