St. Louis Public Radio News
5:15 pm
Fri April 30, 2010

Census takers hit the streets on Saturday

St. Louis, MO – St. Louis lagged behind the national average in responding to the mail-in Census, so the mayor and police chief are touting the importance of participation in the door-to-door effort.

The mail-in participation rate in St. Louis was 67 percent. That's three-percent better than in 2000 but below this year's national average of 72 percent.

Mayor Francis Slay says that below-average participation will cost the city in the long run when it comes to federal funds sent to St. Louis.

"How much money you get is determined by your census. So it's going to impact how much money we actually get in the city and it pays for all kinds of programs. It pays for housing programs, transportation programs, social services. For example, Meal on Wheels for seniors," Slay said.

Mayor Slay said that back in 2008, the city received $3,400 for every person counted.

Craig Best, assistant regional director the U.S. Census Bureau, hopes they're able to reach most of the non-responders with their door-to-door campaign but he understands some are fearful about how the information will be used.

"There are people out there that are concerned about the issue with all the identity theft and things that go on. But the census is still a confidential process. It's required by federal law. Every census employee, including myself, take that lifetime oath of confidentiality," Best said.

Census workers will be going door-to-door on beginning Saturday to homes that did not mail in forms.