Census workers gear up for 10-year survey

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 16, 2009

The decennial census won’t be taken for another year, but censusworkers are now knocking on doors in the area conducting apreparatory survey.

Workers are updating the census bureau’s residential addresslist to provide an accurate database to ensure each home receivesan official census questionnaire in April 2010.

“We want to make sure we count everyone once and in the correctplace,” said Jeff Behler, U.S. Census Bureau deputy regionaldirector for the Dallas Region, which includes Texas, Louisiana andMississippi.

More than 1,300 listers will be canvassing the state during a10-week operation that began last week, Behler said. The goal is toconfirm existing addresses, enter new addresses and delete theaddresses of homes than no longer exist.

“We don’t target specific counties at a time,” he said. “We hitall areas at once.”

Behler said the workers would be visiting homes during daylighthours and homeowners may know the person.

“We try to hire locally because they know their area better thananyone else,” he said.

Canvassers will provide a “courtesy knock” when they arrive at aresidence and may ask a few questions if someone is home, Behlersaid. However, they will only verify the address and ask about anyadditional living quarters, such as an apartment over the garage,on the property that may not be visible to the eye.

“We need to make this as accurate as possible,” he said. “Weonly get this opportunity to update the address list every 10years.”

To help with accuracy, census workers will be using hand-heldcomputers equipped with global positioning system mapping softwarefor the first time. The 2000 census was conducted completely onpaper.

Census accuracy is important, Behler said, because theinformation gathered is used to redraw districts in the U.S.Congress and in the distribution of federal funding to state andlocal governments. The 2010 census is expected to shift severalcongressional seats across the nation.

Census workers can be identified by an official bureau badge andwill display identification cards in the windshields of theirvehicles.

Any questions regarding the census or to report inappropriatebehavior by workers can be made by calling the bureau at1-800-563-6499.