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Census Spending…


I saw the $2.5 million census ad during the super bowl. I received BOTH census reminder mailers – one before I received the actual census and one after. I’ve seen dozens of commercials and just as many billboards along the freeway and in my community.

According to the Census Director, this flood of advertising will save money (see: http://blogs.census.gov/2010census/2010/02/why-use-advance-letters.html and http://blogs.census.gov/2010census/2010/02/2010-census-ad-campaign-positioned-to-save-taxpayers-millions.html)

I’ve read the reasons and I know how I feel but…

What do you think?

Waste of money? Or saving money?


  • Reply brooklynchick |

    It would be a big waste EXCEPT about half of our country doesn’t return the darn thing. If everyone took five minutes to fill it out, the big campaigns wouldn’t be necessary. Grrr! Come on folks, fill it out!

  • Reply Gina |

    I agree with brooklynchick – it is a waste of money, but the truth is, all that advertising and information wasn’t for people like you or I, people that take the time. It is for the millions of people who are idiots and have to be catered to because they don’t know how to follow the rules/directions. I could go on a huge diatribe here, but it is too early on a Monday to let my blood pressure gt tht high! 🙂

  • Reply Angie |

    Seriously – is it that hard to fill out your census? I’m such a dork, I was so excited to fill it out, especially now that I can add my son! 🙂

  • Reply teresa |

    I think they should have just paid everyone to take it, a lot more incentive to the idiots that aren’t going to fill it out no matter how much the govt spends on advertising. Besides if they pd every household it would do more to “stimulate” the economy than to give all the money to the advertisers. But maybe they are just trying to help the Postal Service by spending a ton of money on mailing all these reminders out.

  • Reply DCS |

    I got a reminder, then the census form (which I filled out and returned early), then another reminder, then another census form!

  • Reply Phoebe |

    I work for a company that provides residential services to adults with developmental disabilities and had the unique opportunity to overhear some of our staff recieving the same training that census workers do in order to register many of our clients (who largely do not read and cannot fill it out themselves.) The staff were literally sworn in and everything.

    I don’t remember the exact amount, but one of the things that he mentioned is that it costs the government the price of a stamp if the census is returned immediatly. Sending out a census worker for a follow-up visit costs in the area of $50 per household visted.

    Even factoring in the 2 reminders and 2 census packets I was sent, radio spots intended to reach millions, whatever they’re airing on TV, and print ads — figure that all of that is still cheaper per person than that follow-up visit.

  • Reply WillyPower |

    An old marketing rule says that the average person requires 7 “touch points” (t.v. commercial, billboard, mail piece, etc) before they notice your product. I think the bigger waste of money would be not to advertise and only 25% of the public answering the census.

  • Reply Jenn in Michigan |

    It may seem like a waste to the general public that probably don’t realize the vast numbers of people, programs, and funding that rely on that information.

    I use the most current census information everyday at my job, forecasting traffic based on changes in demographics. I also use all the older Census information both in my job and my Genealogy research. All Census forms become public after 70 years and I am more excited for the release of the 1940 census forms than the 2010!!

  • Reply Stacie |

    I live in a rural neighborhood, by myself. I will not fill out information regarding who lives in my house….I don’t trust that the information will could not harm me if it found its way to the wrong hands. I am entitled to my privacy and to keep myself safe.

  • Reply Stacie |

    Also, before you pounce on me, know that I am educated woman with a doctorate degree. I am not a idiot or a fool. I am just cautious. And, yes the ads are a waste of taxpayer money when the country is in such dire straits.

  • Reply Alison@This Wasn't In The Plan |

    I think the initial “you’re going to get a census form in the mail” mailing was a bit odd, but the reminder one after the initial census form was probably a good thing for those people who put the form off the side and then forgot about it.

    However, I too received a second form in the mail after sending back my first one. I think they should have put forth some effort into making sure people who already returned the form didn’t get a second one, but maybe it’s just more cost effective to send out another form to everyone?

  • Reply Jill |

    Monstrous waste of money…couldn’t we pay a few statisticians to estimate the population just as accurately as the census???

  • Reply Mar |

    If you want the REAL waste of money, go to http://www.michellemalkin.com and read the postings from the census workers about the excess training, what they are expected to do in a certain amount of time (too little work in too much time, basically). Even if you aren’t conservative and don’t agree with her political leanings, these postings from the e-mails of census workers will drive you a bit over the edge.

    As far as the mailings, I think three in two weeks time was too much. The one before the forms arrived was the overkill one for me.

    I filled our census out over the weekend and sent it back on Saturday. Since it was a count of who lived in our house on 4/1/10, I don’t think it should have been filled out until then. What if someone had died (okay, slim chance, but still…)?

  • Reply Lizzie |

    Total and complete waste of money. There are so many people who are not going to fill the form out anyway, even with all of the fancy reminders and celebs encouraging people to participate. Many people want to maintain their privacy and just don’t trust Uncle Sam with ANY personal info.

  • Reply Jen |

    There was an article on the Boston Globe today about the census, and how various cities and towns are trying to get their response rates up. I think the article said for each MA resident who returns the form MA will end up getting $2,000 in federal money (due to federal programs, etc.). The article said that suburbanites are best at returning the forms, but residents in the cities, especially immigrants who don’t speak English, are least likely to return the forms. And, ironically, it’s the cities with large poor and immigrant populations that need their residents to be counted the most.

    One thing that did irk me, and maybe it’s just my idiocy, but I didn’t know until I read this morning’s article that the deadline to return the form was April 1st. If they had put that in bold on the form I would have returned it sooner than I did.

    Here’s a link to the article:

  • Reply Jen |

    @Stacie – Do you file your tax return each year? Odds are whatever information you fill out on the census someone in the government (or at a credit bureau) already knows it. Granted, they may not know you live alone, but I suppose it wouldn’t be too hard to figure it out.

  • Reply Stacie |

    @Jen – yes, I do return a tax return each year. However, it is electronic and I do not give the information to temporary workers. And, it is more difficult to figure out who lives in the home. If you are not related (married or dependent), then you don’t share tax returns. It is the giving of information to an organization that has obvious flaws in security. I am required by law (with penalties) to file tax returns. But, I am picky about giving private information to strangers and organizations that do not have solid, well checked out employees.

  • Reply Jenn in Michigan |

    You are required by law to give information to the Census Bureau. You wouldn’t be giving the information to Temporary Workers if you filled out the form. Now the Temp workers have to travel to your house costing the taxpayers even more money.

    According to Title 13, Section 221 (Census, Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers) of the United States Code, persons who fail or refuse to respond to the mail-back census form, or refuse to respond to a follow-up census taker can be fined up to $100. Persons who knowingly provide false information to the census can be fined up to $500.

  • Reply Stacie |

    I guess I will be fined and I will not be available for the temporary worker who may/may not come knocking on my door. I will simply say I don’t live there. $100 is worth feeling safe.

  • Reply teresa |

    @Stacie, you said you lived in a rural area, don’t you think everyone around there knows you live alone. The temp workers are usually local people, they are not recruited from other areas. You might want to consider meeting some locals or maybe if you live in such a rough area you might want to consider moving…. Besides filling out the census if kind of a civiv duty, do you vote…

  • Reply Stacie |


    No I don’t think everyone knows I live alone. I no longer have kids in the school district and the actual city is relatively large. I moved here after my kids were grown – school is a general meeting ground for families. I is not a “everyone knows everyone” town. I have no idea who lives outside of my immediate neighborhood of 8 homes on 60 acres. Plus, I work alot and am actually not home during the hours that a census worker would visit.

  • Reply Stacie |

    @ Teresa,

    Yes I do vote by mail (again, I work a lot). Plus, in my state, the majority of funding for civic activities is from property taxes not the federal government. Yes, the state does get money – but I would not help my community. I make a good living and I am very educated, so statistically, I would not be helpful to increasing funding for social services. The library, police, schools, and fire department are supported through my property taxes. It is complicated, but I don’t think the census count is by any stretch accurate. We have a lot of immigrants that absolutely will not complete the form out of fear of being deported. Plus, many live in multi-family homes that exceed the limits for occupancy – another reason not to disclose who lives in the home.

So, what do you think ?