After years of counting the American population in the same way, U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves spoke at Cornell Friday about changing the way the census reaches and measures the nation.
“[The census] is important in this country because we fight over the census in a way that is ferocious,” Groves said.
The census has counted people in their hometowns since it in 1790, Groves said.
Groves said this year’s form was probably the shortest since 1790, which increased the self-response rate. Each percentage point increase in self-response rate saves the country about $85 million, he added.
In addition, the census offered the form bilingually for the first time, Groves said. The census printed the official document in six languages, the promotional materials in 28 languages and the language assistance guides in 59 languages, he said.
According to Groves, a lot of paid advertising in this year’s census went in local media, particularly ethnic newspapers.
“We had a Japanese rice cooker in the Japanese commercial and a Filippino rice cooker in the Filippino one,” Groves said. “People noticed and it meant something to them.”
In January, the Census Bureau launched a road tour, which visited small towns during festivals and distributed census materials. The Census Bureau also utilized social media and ran an advertisment in the third quarter of the Superbowl.
“[The Superbowl advertisement] generated criticism and a lot of media attention because it was so bad,” Groves said.
Groves noted that the 18- to 24-year- old age bracket was the least likely to participate.
“They are completely out of it,” Groves said. “They have no intention to participate. This is the first time this group has had to step up and do it themselves.”
2010’s census data was submitted to President Barack Obama 10 days before the Dec. 31 deadline, which included the arithmetic to determine how many representatives each state receives in the House.
The Census Bureau is currently delivering state-level files to the state leaders who are charged with redistricting their states, Groves said.
Groves stressed the political implications of census statistics.
“I have never met a mayor who believes we over-counted his city,” Groves said.