Census: Help save Uncle Sam $1.5 billion

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Census Bureau estimated Monday that Americans could save the federal government $1.5 billion by mailing their 2010 census forms instead of waiting for a census taker to show up at the door.

The announcement came on the same day the bureau mailed the first 120 million forms to households across the nation as part of the Constitutionally mandated population count.

"Mailing back your census form when it arrives will contribute to saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars," Census Bureau director Robert Groves said in a statement. "It's a lot less expensive to get responses back by mail than it is to send census takers to knock on doors of households that failed to respond."

Groves said it costs the government 42 cents for each pre-paid envelope when a household mails back the form. That compares with a cost of $57 to send a census taker to check on households that do not respond, he said.

While everyone living in the United States is required by law to participate in the census, the Bureau estimates that some 48 million households will not respond by mail.

That's partly because many of the forms being mailed Monday will arrive at foreclosed homes, the bureau said. However, many others could simply disregard the forms.

As a result, the agency expects to hire 650,000 census workers to begin following up with households in May.

The push to get Americans to respond via mail comes after a major media campaign to create awareness about the 2010 census, which included a high-profile advertisement during last month's Super Bowl.

The bureau also mailed advance letters last week to alert households about the census and will send reminder postcards later this week. Those efforts could result in a cost savings of more than $500 million, the agency said.

The census is conducted every 10 years to ensure that Congress is reapportioned in a way that accurately reflects the U.S. population. It is also used determine how more than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed.

The 2010 form, which consists of 10 questions, should take only 10 minutes to complete, the bureau said. In addition to asking how many people live at a particular residence and whether or not they own or rents the home, the form has questions regarding age, sex, race. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,563.30 -317.06 -1.88%
Nasdaq 4,369.77 0.00 0.00%
S&P 500 1,930.67 -39.40 -2.00%
Treasuries 2.56 0.00 0.08%
Data as of 3:28am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.25 -0.33 -2.12%
Micron Technology In... 30.55 -1.98 -6.09%
Apple Inc 95.60 -2.55 -2.60%
Facebook Inc 72.65 -2.03 -2.71%
Pfizer Inc 28.70 -0.56 -1.91%
Data as of Jul 31

Sections

Malaysia Airlines was in major trouble even before the twin disasters of Flight 370 and Flight 17 claimed the lives of 537 people. More

With RadioShack burning through cash, investors and credit rating agencies believe its days are numbered. More

LinkedIn shares surged in after-hours trading Thursday following strong second-quarter earnings, following the likes of Facebook and Twitter. More

Terrell White has had a profit-sharing plan for his employees since 1981, believing that if the staff isn't happy, guests won't be either. More

The Mason family, which has been struggling to pay the $100,000 student loan bill they were left with when their daughter passed away five years ago, is now seeing an outpouring of support. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.