Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval's Census Replies Lag in Region; City Will Reach out to Trouble Spots; St. Johns and Clay Did Better

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval's Census Replies Lag in Region; City Will Reach out to Trouble Spots; St. Johns and Clay Did Better

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

Wherever you were on Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau wants to know.

The count of the nation's population, which takes place every 10 years, is already in full swing. But April 1 is the day of the official tally. Whoever was in your household that day should be included on the 10-question forms, which were mailed out in March.

The more forms are mailed back, the more taxpayer money is saved, because it is far more expensive to send census workers door-to-door.

The most recent figures indicate that nationwide, more than half of occupied households have already mailed their census forms back. The mail participation rate is the percentage of forms mailed back by households that received them.

It doesn't include households from which forms were returned as undeliverable, which suggests the house was vacant. Census workers still follow up on all housing units when they begin going door-to-door in May.

As of Thursday, 52 percent of occupied households had mailed back their census forms. But participation rates varied in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.

St. Johns and Clay counties were far ahead, with response rates of 56 percent or higher. But in Duval and rural counties, participation lagged. Charlton County in Georgia (Savannah) had this region's lowest mail-back rate at 35 percent.

At 48 percent, Duval County leads many other urban areas in Florida, such as Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as well as the Orlando area.

That's encouraging, said Roslyn Mixon-Phillips, the city's chief community officer.

At the end of this week, Jacksonville's complete count committee will begin looking at response rates by census tract to see which communities need to be targeted, she said.

The city will work with the Census Bureau to reach out to households in those areas to ensure they have a form and remind people to mail them back. On April 10, communities throughout the region and the country will hold a "March to the Mailbox" event to drum up more response.

At the Jacksonville Urban League, workers have been reminding everyone who comes in the door to fill out the census, said Linnie Finley, the agency's vice president of development, marketing and communications. …

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