2010 Census winding down

By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - U.S. Census workers say they have wrapped up the largest of their required operations and are now moving in a quality control process that is expected to last through September.

Area Census Manager Max Biggs says the months of advertising, rallies and multiple mail-outs paid off.

"The process worked the way it was supposed to," Biggs said. "Everything went according to plan."

Biggs says instead of 49th in the nation like in 2000, South Carolina ranked No. 23 for getting the mail-in forms filled out and returned.

After that step in the process was complete, trained census workers went out on foot to help get even more people to respond. He says in total, workers visited 132,000 homes in Horry, Georgetown, Dillon, Marion and Florence counties during that phase.

"We were actually the first in the nation, the State of South Carolina, to complete that phase of the operation," Biggs said, adding that they completed it four weeks ahead of schedule.

Tracy Coyle, a Census worker, says people were very receptive to the census employees on the broad scale.

"They know what we're doing and I think the general public knows how important that it is that we collect accurate data," Coyle said.

To make sure the data is in fact accurate, the Census is now moving into quality assurance mode. Biggs says they are going back and double checking forms, making phone calls with any questions, and checking in on properties in question.

"We're going to send people out to anything that was listed as a vacant as of April 1 or we've deleted because say the house has been demolished or something," Biggs explained, "We're actually sending a team out to verify that."

Coyle says the process is expected to be straightforward.

"If we're coming back knocking on your door we'll be in and out very quick and we're just confirming," Coyle explained. "We're double checking our work to make sure that everything we got to begin with was good accurate data."

Biggs says people can expect a possible phone call as workers begin randomly sampling households.

"It is not testing the individual being surveyed," Biggs explained. "It's actually testing our enumerators out in the field doing the count to make sure they're doing things properly, by the book and they come up with the correct number."

From now until the completion of the 2010 Census, Biggs says the workload is expected to remain lower than in the initial phase.

"In April we hired 1,600 people to go door to door," Biggs said. "Currently, we have hired a little over 500 [people] to go door to door. That should be an indication of where our workload should be for the next phase."

Coyle says workers were aware from the beginning that the work would only be temporary and she believes it will actually help make the employees more marketable for their next job.

"For employers out there looking to hire I have to tell you, if you got a job as a census employee you went through a pretty thorough background check, fingerprinted," she said. "The Census Bureau hired good people."

Biggs says they expect to wrap up all census work by sometime in September so they can get the data to the president by the Dec. 31 deadline.

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