Area closing in on census response goals

April 15, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

The Census Bureau will announce Tuesday whether communities in the Tri-State area and elsewhere in the nation will have reached their goals for response rates to the census questionnaire.

So far, only three have reached their targets.

The agency has not updated its daily tally since last Tuesday. Clear Spring and Sharpsburg in Washington County and Thompson Township in Fulton County, Pa., had hit their marks at that point.

Several other towns were relatively close. Williamsport, where 64 percent of households had mailed back forms, was just 2 percentage points off its goal.

Washington County was 7 percentage points away from its goal of 73 percent.

Targets were set by adding 5 percentage points to the response rate for the last census in 1990.

Forms received this week will be added to the final total, which the bureau will post Tuesday on its World Wide Web site (


Nationally, 62 percent had responded by Tuesday, leaving census officials hopeful of reaching the goal of 70 percent.

"America is within reach of doing as well or better than 1990, which would be a major civic accomplishment and reverse a decades-long trend of civic disengagement," Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt said in a statement.

Local officials said it has been frustrating not being able to chart the area's progress over the past several days.

Norman Bassett, coordinator of the Washington County Complete Count Committee, said the county had been making progress bit by bit each day.

"What I was really looking out for there was hopefully finding out that the 2 percent a day we were getting is continuing," he said.

Households from which the Census Bureau has not received a form by today will get a visit this summer from a census counter.

Census spokeswoman Terry Willis said temporary workers will be trained this month and will begin knocking on doors April 27.

Workers will make six attempts - three by phone and three in person - to reach residents who have not responded to the census.

Willis said the process will take between six and eight weeks.

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