Ask Andy: Census form confusion

By Andy Wise - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - You have heard it over the last few months.  The 2010 Census is ten questions with no questions about your finances or other personal information.  Also, you will not receive the form until March.

Some people have already received a form from the Census Bureau, and it digs deep.

A woman who asked to remain anonymous opened her mailbox to find a packet from the Census Bureau.  It was titled the American Community Survey, and was over 20 pages.

A Census manager explained that the form she received was in fact official.

"This year we're only sending out the short form, which is only ten questions," said George Jamerson with the US Census Bureau.  "But there are approximately 3 million families annually around the country that will be receiving the American Community Survey Report, which is a Census form."

The American Community Survey is much more in-depth than the Census form most will receive in March.  For example, it asks how much your mortgage or rent is, how much money you made in the last year, and even what time you leave for work.

Jamerson explained the reasoning behind that last question.

"We need to know when those roads are going to be occupied so that if we need to improve or build new roads, we can do it at the right time," Jamerson said.

Jamerson said the survey is used by communities and businesses to figure out the demographics of different areas to plan for the future.

"If somebody wants to build a shopping mall, the American Community Survey will show whether or not the financial stability is there to support that," Jamerson said.

To eliminate confusion, Jamerson said he expects the bureau to suspend the survey's distribution until after the Census is complete.

If you have already received the survey, the bureau asked you to fill it out and feel confident your information is safe.

"The only thing that goes to the president and the only that that's get put in are the numbers," Jamerson said.  "Names are never associated with anything."

Jamerson said if you get something from the Census Bureau and you are not certain it is legitimate, contact your regional Census office.

To check out the United States Census 2010 homepage, click here:

To contact your regional Census office, click here:

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.