By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – Yalobusha County is only two percentage points behind the national mail participation rate for the 2010 Census.
During the 2000 Census, Yalobusha County was at only 58 percent participation during this same period.
Nationally, 64 percent of households have mailed back their Census forms so far, while 62 percent of Yalobusha County households have participated, according to the latest figures Tuesday morning from the Census Bureau.
Water Valley is at 68 percent, which is 14 percentage points above the 2000 rate for the same period. Coffeeville is at 53 percent, which is 7 points below the 2000 rate. Oakland is at 52 percent, which is ten points behind the 2000 figure.
Of the five surround counties, only Grenada County is equal to Yalobusha with 62 percent. The other four counties are: Lafayette, 58 percent; Tallahatchie, 54 percent; Calhoun, 59 percent; and Panola, 56 percent.
Mississippi’s participation rate is 60 percent, making it one of only seven states with 60 percent or less participation. Issaquena County has one of the worst participation rates in the country at 32 percent.
“We’re concerned about the relatively low response,” said Kat Smith of the Census Bureau regional office. “We want the people of the area to understand that every household that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost.”
The emphasis on encouraging mail participation in the census is a practical one, according to census officials. For every percentage point increase in mail response, taxpayers will save an estimated $85 million in federal funds. Those funds would otherwise be required to send census takers to collect census responses in person from households that don’t mail back the form.
Yalobusha County Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney reported that the Census Bureau has provided a limited number of Census forms for anyone who has not already received one. The forms are available at the Circuit Clerk’s office in Water Valley and Coffeeville.
After the 2000 Census, the Census Bureau was able to return $305 million in savings to the federal Treasury because mail rates exceeded expectations — a move Census Bureau say they would like to repeat in 2010.