A Map of Progress

Christine Whelan | Posted on 03/25/10

Census forms are out.

I received mine and mailed it in. Did you?

In a smart use of technology to show real-time progress (and create a sense of accountability and civic pride, perhaps) the U.S. Census has teamed up with Google to create a new website where people can track census return rates neighborhood by neighborhood.

It's updated at 4 p.m. every day, so you can follow your state-and neighborhood's-progress. (My current neighborhood in Pittsburgh isn't doing so well--only 12% responding compared with the national participation rate of 20% so far--but I'll keep checking back. How's yours doing?)

Says Census Director Robert Groves to NPR:

The census is promoting the map as a way to measure civic pride. The mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., have already bet barbecue and beer on which of their cities has the best response rate, and Groves hopes it will spur people across the country to mail in their forms. The more who do, he says, the less the census will cost taxpayers:

"This simple act of taking 10 minutes or so of filling out your questionnaire and mail it back ends up being your own little contribution to reducing the federal deficit," Groves says.

That's because the more people who return their forms by mail mean the fewer enumerators who will have to be hired to go door to door later this spring. Groves says every 1 percent of taxpayers who respond by mail saves $85 million in government spending. The census is an elaborate undertaking. Groves says that ensuring every American household gets counted involves a bit of adventure.

I'm all for a little neighborly competition to save that kind of cash.

blog comments powered by Disqus