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April 1, 2009
By Claudene Wharton
April marks the beginning of the “Year of the Census,” April 1, 2009 to April 1, 2010, as proclaimed by Governor Jim Gibbons and resolved by the Nevada Legislature.
“The national census is only taken once a decade, so it’s extremely important that we get an accurate count,” said Jeff Hardcastle, the Nevada State Demographer based on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. “Every person missed costs the state more than $900 in federal funding. That can really add up.”
Hardcastle, housed in the Nevada Small Business Development Center in the University’s College of Business, says the process begins this April with temporary census workers canvassing neighborhoods to check for the accuracy of address lists provided by local governments. This will continue through most of the summer. That information will be compiled, along with other information on group housing, such as college dorms and senior retirement homes, collected in the fall. Then, next spring, the census, or “short form,” will be mailed to residences.
“It’s imperative that people fill out these short forms and return them,” Hardcastle said. “The less follow-up we have to do to attain accurate information, the less it costs us to take the census.”
Hardcastle said that at least six follow-up attempts will be made to contact those who fail to return their forms. The form that is mailed to each address only asks for very basic information, and the government pays for the return postage. The form simply asks for each resident’s name and relationship, age, race, sex, ethnicity and whether the home is owned or rented.
“Given the remarkable growth Nevada has experienced over the last decade, an accurate count this census year can really benefit our state,” Hardcastle concludes. “”Growth means more representation in Congress and more per-capita dollars.”