The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Senior Outlook

March 3, 2010

Carolyn McLaren: Completing census an important task

It’s strange what we remember from our childhood. I have a very clear memory of my mother standing at our front door answering questions being asked by an older lady. I remember asking why the lady was asking questions. My mother told me they were counting all the people in our country. I probably thought that counting everyone in the country was cool but I at that time I had no idea how important it was.

During the month of March, the U.S. Postal Service will deliver the 2010 census questionnaires to your home. I want to encourage you to please complete your census form and put it in the mail by April 1. The census count is not just the number of people living in the United States; it is, in part, how the federal government allocates the billions of dollars distributed to the states for federally mandated programs. Retail stores, schools, hospitals, and communities use this data to determine community needs; and very importantly, the data determines the boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. A state will either lose or gain a congressional representative if the state’s population changes enough, which could either weaken or strengthen the state’s voice in Congress.

The census form takes only a few minutes to complete. There are 10 questions about your household then seven questions for each person living in the home. If you do not return your form you will receive a visit from a census taker sometime between May and July. This person will have identification stating they are a trained census taker and will help you fill out the needed information.

As you know there are always scam artists waiting for any opportunity to take advantage and access your personal information. If someone calls or comes to your home claiming to be a census taker and asks for your Social Security number, banking, or credit card information, they are not census takers. The 2010 census form does not ask for any personal financial information.

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