SC response to 2010 Census shows 'fantastic improvement'

Columbia, SC - COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - After logging record-setting improvements in its response rate, South Carolina enters the next phase of the 2010 Census poised to have its best count in decades.

South Carolina's 2010 Census mail participation rate is 73 percent, up 8 percent from 2000, which ties the Palmetto State with North Carolina for the nation's biggest improvement in census mail response. The national rate is 72 percent as of Friday.

In both 2000 and 1990, South Carolina had the nation's second-worst mail response rate. As of April 23, South Carolina was tied for 19th in the nation.

"South Carolinians have heard the call to stand up and be counted this year," said Bobby Bowers, who leads the state's census effort as director of the SC Budget and Control Board's Office of Research and Statistics. "The response to the census has far exceeded our hopes and we deeply appreciate the partners at both the federal and local level who have helped us register this fantastic improvement."

This year, South Carolina conducted its most intensive state-level census campaign to supplement federal outreach efforts, which included special initiatives to improve address databases used to send out census forms and targeted public awareness campaigns.

Mail returns improved in all regions of the state and especially in hard-to-count rural areas, with the biggest gainer being Allendale County, which saw its mail return rate skyrocket from a state-worst 45 percent in 2000 to 72 percent this year. Edgefield, Calhoun, Georgetown, Clarendon and Fairfield counties also logged mail response gains of 20 percent or more. Half of the state's 46 counties recorded double-digit gains in the percentage of residences responding to the census and all but two improved from their 2000 scores.

The latest rates for all states, counties, places, towns and townships can be found on the Take 10 Challenge Map.

Starting May 1, U.S. Census Bureau employees will visit residences that did not send back their forms to conduct the survey. They also will verify that housing units indicated as "unoccupied" by the USPS or others are indeed unoccupied and vacant.

"While we have done great so far, the 2010 Census is not over," Bowers said. "It's crucial for those who have not been counted yet to open their doors to the census taker."

Census data is used to distribute more than $400 billion in federal aid for programs such as road construction, career education and health care. Census population data also determines each state's representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and local seats in the South Carolina General Assembly.

2010 v. 2000 Rate of Return

County 2010
Abbeville County 67 62
Aiken County 75 68
Allendale County 72 45
Anderson County 76 70
Bamberg County 70 54
Barnwell County 74 55
Beaufort County 72 60
Berkeley County 73 64
Calhoun County 74 50
Charleston County 71 64
Cherokee County 71 68
Chester County 74 57
Chesterfield County 75 57
Clarendon County 70 48
Colleton County 70 52
Darlington County 72 59
Dillon County 69 59
Dorchester County 75 69
Edgefield County 76 50
Fairfield County 74 53
Florence County 71 67
Georgetown County 72 48
Greenville County 76 70
Greenwood County 71 70
Hampton County 65 52
Horry County 68 57
Jasper County 65 49
Kershaw County 75 68
Lancaster County 78 70
Laurens County 72 57
Lee County 71 57
Lexington County 77 72
Marion County 67 58
Marlboro County 68 58
McCormick County 71 57
Newberry County 74 67
Oconee County 70 69
Orangeburg County 68 53
Pickens County 74 68
Richland County 75 69
Saluda County 71 59
Spartanburg County 70 71
Sumter County 73 69
Union County 68 69
Williamsburg County 68 53
York County 79 72
National Average 72 72
South Carolina Average 73 65

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