Census Response Down In N.J.; Loss Of Seat Feared

census_worker_lkwdSeventy-four percent of New Jersey households returned their 2010 Census forms, according to the federal Census Bureau, a figure equal to the national participation rate, although down by 2 percentage points from the state’s performance 10 years earlier. 

Houses that didn’t return a form — as well as those that returned them late, such as 2 percent of households in New Jersey — then received visits from census takers trying to complete an accurate head count, as required by the Constitution to distribute seats to the states in the House of Representatives.

A declining response rate could indicate trouble on the horizon for New Jersey, which needs as many heads counted as possible as it is considered likely to lose one of its 13 House seats because of the nation’s population shifts south and west.

However, the state was far from alone in its downward trend, as participation in the mail-back section of the Census dropped in 28 states while rising in 15, according to figure released by the Census Bureau last week.

In New Jersey, only Essex, Hudson and Sussex counties recorded increases in the return rate. Monmouth County had a 77 percent return rate, down from 80 percent in 2000. Ocean County dipped from 81 percent a decade ago to 78 percent this year.

The Census helps determines how many federal dollars a county is awarded and helps apportion state legislative as well as congressional representation for residents.

Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari expressed his surprise at the fact that the participation rate had dropped from 2000, given the enormous public awareness campaign that had been waged to make sure all residents were counted. Read full story in APP.

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