Languages on Census letter

Okay, so I got a letter in the mail telling me that my 2010 Census form will be arriving next week. Cool beans! At the bottom of the letter it says, “Go to for help completing your 2010 Census form when it arrives.”

Then this sentence is translated into Spanish (obvious), two Asian languages (Chinese and Japanese?), what might be Vietnamese, and Russian.

Huh? Wikipedia says the top five most common languages in the U.S. are English, Spanish, “Chinese languages,” (mostly Cantonese and a growing number of Mandarin speakers), French and German. Vietnamese is #7, Russian is #10 and Japanese is #14 with only 480,000 speakers.

I swear, I don’t know anything. What the heck is “Texas German”? And I never even heard of Gujarati (“native to the Indian state of Gujarat”).

Ooops. I already ripped to shreds and threw out the announcement letter that I got earlier today. Your tax $$$ at work–wasting money to send a letter saying that they are going to send a questionnaire. WTF?

Oh, sorry I can’t answer your question. :smiley:

Perhaps they send different letters to different parts of the country. Where I live, for example, there are far more Vietnamese speakers than French speakers.

According to this, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian.

IABABOTCE (I am not a Bureau of the Census employee), but my assumption would be that the letter is sent in the languages with the most monoglot American speakers. There are, for example, very few monoglot Russian-Americans, even though Ruissian is spoken by a very large number of people. On the other hand, there are a lot of monoglot Hispanics, and more than a few monoglot Vietnamese, living in America.

As for why the letter, it is intended to reassure people when they get their Census questionnaire that (a) they are required to complete and return it, and (b) doing so will not expose them to criminal or other problems. (Meaning illegal immigrants, for example, but also, the Census wants to know that there are really seven people living in that apartment whose lease calls for only four residents. The Census is prohibited from revealing the raw information it garners to other governmental agencies; statistical data only is public.)

Aha! Korean. Thanks, Wallflower.

Well, this is a university town: lots of (Asian) Indian students and other non-native English speakers. Hmmm.

I got randomly selected to fill out the Community Survey, the extra multi-page form asking whether you have a job, whether all the other people in your household have jobs, whether your house has a flush toilet and hot and cold running water, etc… In addition to a letter announcing the survey would be arriving, and the survey itself (with a cover letter and explanatory brochure), I got a follow-up letter reminding me to complete and mail the form (which I already had). Keep those paper mills churning!

Yeah, because it’s not like this is important. :rolleyes:


I didn’t get that letter, but my form was hand delivered last Sunday because they are updating the maps in my area. The Postal service knows we’re here, so I don’t understand the hand delivery part.

Of course being an old curmudgeon I just filled in the number of residents and sent it off with the rest blank. :eek:

Exactly. (ETA: to Cliffy’s comment.)

The Census Bureau says that for every 1% of people who do not respond to the mailed census, an extra $85 million has to be spent to send census takers out to people’s houses. Bothering people with reminders that the census form is coming, either by TV ads or direct mail, doesn’t seem to be a waste if it involves increasing participation.

So, people who do not fill out the forms are costing the rest of us taxpayers money. Good work.

FETA: the Census also says that it costs 42 cents to mail back a form, and an average of $56 to send someone to do one survey. THAT’S a waste.

I spent a couple months last year updating Census maps in my area. I speak from experience when I say that the Census does not have direct access to Post Office address information and vice versa.

Oh, and thank you for not completing the form - it’s folks like you that keep us live human Census workers employed. ::: knock ::: knock ::: knock ::: on your door…

Well, from the stand point of someone hoping to be called in to do that sort of work, no, not a TOTAL waste… but yes, there is an argument for making the most efficient use of resources.

Constitution says count. And it’s two, go away! :smiley:

I know you’re being funny, but let’s clear up the misconception about what the Constitution says. It says that an enumeration shall be made every ten years “in such manner as they shall by law direct.” From the very first census until today, every single census has done more than go, “1, 2, 3, 4…” and has in fact collected data on the age, race and sex of residents.

There’s no basis whatsoever to believe there is any constitutional bar from collecting this data as the law directs.

I’m a single male in Seattle. What does it matter whether I fill it out or not?

Are they actually going to send someone to my door if I don’t fill it out?

Yes, if you don’t fill it out they are supposed to send someone to your door.

Given that there is an abundance of people looking for work these days they won’t have any trouble finding someone willing to do the job.

Do you know how many single men live alone in the US?

I don’t.

It is important to count because single men living alone are not only entitled to representation in Congress, but the government can better plan allocations of resources to account for the way that single men tend to use government programs.

Like, where to allocate resources among the numerous National Strategic Frozen Dinner Stockpile Reserves that are located around the country. :wink:

Hmmmm. I’m soon to be unemployed. Perhaps I should work for them. They can’t count me if I’m one of them.

Yeah, actually, they count themselves, too…

And if you wanted a Census job for April or May you needed to apply in January. But go ahead and apply anyhow - there will be work through at least the end of the year.

It’s used by private companies as well. IIRC, one of the things that was caused by someone taking a good look at the census (this wasn’t in the US) was the creation of ready-meals sized for one person, where previously they’d been for 4-5: “I know a lot of people who live alone or at least cook for themselves” is anecdote, census data saying “15% of households are single-person” (number pulled out of my left elbow) is, well, data. So that joke wasn’t as much of a joke as you thought :slight_smile:

This is why the Census is spending a boatload of money to encourage people to take the initiative to mail the form back. (This is the part of the Census I work on.) The money it costs to promote mailing it back is very tiny compared to the cost of hiring and training Census workers to go out and collect the information.

Another selling point to mailing it back is privacy. If you mail it back, it goes to a small town in southern Indiana. If we have to send someone out, that person may be someone you know.