Technology will do Census no Good

Census director Kenneth Prewitt said Tuesday that technology won't help the agency find those who are undercounted in the 2000 census and that it will take knocking on doors and old-fashioned legwork to do the job instead.

At a press briefing, Prewitt announced a new campaign to get local governments and community leaders involved in increasing the number of people counted in the upcoming census and to send Census workers into communities to find people who have not returned their census questionnaires.

While those filing the short form will be able to do so online, Prewitt said those who are hard to count "are groups not likely to use the Internet."

"It will not solve the problem of the most difficult to reach, the hardest to count," added Commerce

Secretary William Daley, who also was at the press conference. In 1990, only 65 percent of the population was counted, but this year Prewitt said the goal is to increase that to at least 70 percent.

The highest response in 1990 was in the Midwest, where more than 70 percent responded in a number of farm states. The lowest rate was in Alaska — 52 percent — where remote villages make it difficult for Census workers to gather data.

On Jan. 20, Prewitt will visit Unalakleet, Alaska, a remote village 100 miles southeast of Nome, to begin a door-to-door census count.

The census questionnaires will be delivered beginning in mid-March. To gauge the progress of returns, the response rate for every jurisdiction will be posted on the Internet at www.census.gov and updated daily from March 27 to April 11.

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