Tech Won't help Census

Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt said 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 get the job done. At a recent 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.

Although the short form will be able to be filled out 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 Department Secretary William Daley. In 1990, only 65 percent of the population was counted. This year, the goal is at least 70 percent, Prewitt said.

The highest response in 1990 was in the Midwest, where more than 70 percent responded in a number of farm states. The lowest rate, 52 percent, was in Alaska, where remote villages make it difficult for Census workers to gather data. On Jan. 20, Prewitt will visit Unalakleet, Alaska, a village 100 miles southeast of Nome, to begin a door-to-door census count.

Questionnaires will be delivered beginning in March. Response rates for every jurisdiction will be posted at www.census.gov and updated daily from March 27 to April 11.

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