Census 2010: What Happens Next?

Phase one of the U.S. Census is over — which means if you didn't mail your form in last week you can expect a knock on the door from a Census taker some time soon. Laurie Johnson has more.

Approximately 65 percent of Houstonians have turned in their forms in time for the census deadline. It doesn't take a statistician to figure out that still leaves a lot of people who will have to be counted in person.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves says counting the forms costs about .42 per household. Compare that to the cost of door to door counts, which is about $57 per house.

"So this is a massive effort. We'll spend tons of money on this, unfortunately. But we won't rest until we have a resolution for every address. We have a list of over 134 million addresses and we will call on every one of those repeatedly until we've determined who's living in the house."

Of course, it may not be your fault if the government has to count you in person. Many people, like AdriAnn Indermuehle, who lives in the Galleria area, never received a form in the first place.

"I was every day looking for the form, talking with other people who had received notification the form was coming, received the form, received follow-up forms. It did surprise me I didn't get one and wasn't really aware of the deadlines or how to request a form."

There are any number of reasons some people didn't receive forms. Some may have been lost or misdirected in the mail. Some people get their mail sent to a P.O. Box, which won't work for census purposes. And Groves says the Census Bureau already planned to hand count some areas especially those with large immigrant populations.

"So we have a set of laws that are really strong and would prohibit the use of your answers by any enforcement agency at the state, local or national level. This is a proud thing we can all say as Americans. And they're especially pertinent these days to new immigrant groups who are here for the first time, being asked to do the census for the first time. They need to know that we're not part of any of those enforcement activities."

Whatever the reason you may have for not filling out the form, census takers will start calling and knocking on May 1st.

The entire census count is supposed to be finished by the end of July.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...