Initial 2010 census numbers equal those of 2000, likely to exceed

Thursday, April 29, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The first round of census numbers are in, and Boone County is weighing in about average. 

As of Wednesday, Boone County's participation rate was 75 percent, up from 71 percent in 2000. The number is somewhat in the middle of its surrounding counties. Both Cole and Audrain counties had 79 percent return rates, whereas other counties, such as Howard and Benton, had lower rates.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that 72 percent of Americans mailed back their census form this year, the same percentage that did so in 2000.

Missouri is currently right on par with the national average (72 percent), said Jerry Taylor, the local Census Bureau office manager in Columbia. This is pertinent, Taylor said, because the state is only two percentage points behind the 2000 rate.

"It is likely that the rate will change; it may even exceed 2000s," Taylor said. "We are beginning the phase where workers are going out and knocking on the doors of people who might have overlooked their forms."

Starting Saturday, 635,000 census takers across the country will begin going door-to-door to obtain census responses from the remaining households. The temporary census workers have been in training this past week.

"It is hard to say whether or not this is going to be successful," Taylor said. "The populous has changed and are now more skeptical over the government. There are a number of reasons people have not returned their forms."

Despite setbacks, people have still responded adequately, Taylor said. An increase in advertising, like the ads during the Super Bowl, might have had an effect, he said.

The Census Bureau will release final numbers later on in the year.

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