Alabama lagging behind nation in rate of Census form returns

Shelby County residents are urged to take 10 minutes April 1 to complete their 2010 U.S. Census forms and put them in the mail.

April 1 is National Census Day. Residents here received Census forms in the mail earlier in March. So far, Alabama citizens are lagging behind the rest of the nation in returning their Census forms.

Reginald Holloway, manager of community services for Shelby County, is facilitating the county’s 2010 Census committee. He said the national participation rate thus far with the 2010 Census is 34 percent. Alabama’s rate of return to date is 27 percent.

“The reason for the Census is to establish how many people are living in America,” Holloway said. “However, getting an accurate count means a lot to Shelby County. The Census determines how funding is distributed for disasters, how funding is distributed for education, roads, libraries — it means a lot.”

Leading Shelby County in rate of Census form returns is Helena with 31 percent. In contrast, only 12 percent of Hoover residents have returned their Census data.

The Shelby County Census Committee has worked for months to get the message out to residents that filling out and returning their Census forms are important.

Holloway said businesses with message boards and other types of changing signs are urged to use those boards on April 1 to remind residents about Census day. Also, the county is putting out mobile messages boards for that day in the vicinity of Valleydale Road, U.S. 280 and U.S. 31.

“After April 1, it’s sort of going to be in their (residents’) hands. We can only do so much to make people aware and urge them to return their Census forms,” Holloway said.