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Editorial: Please fill out your census form

Hubbard County residents are behind their neighbors on the number of 2010 U.S. Census forms mailed in by the April 1 deadline. But it's not too late to fill out your form. As of Thursday, Hubbard County had returned 43 percent of forms mailed out...

Hubbard County residents are behind their neighbors on the number of 2010 U.S. Census forms mailed in by the April 1 deadline.

But it's not too late to fill out your form.

As of Thursday, Hubbard County had returned 43 percent of forms mailed out last month. Park Rapids residents had returned 61 percent, which is closer to the state compliance rate of 60 percent. The national return rate is at 52 percent.

Don't blow off filling out the form. It only takes a couple minutes and is important to providing an accurate count.

A lot can change in 10 years. Hubbard County can use the information gathered as a measure of poverty with information about owning property or renting. We might assume that our county has an aging population but data gathered from the census will tell us whether this is a proper assumption.

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The U.S. Census Bureau is mailing another round of questionnaires to about 40 million households April 1-10. This will give families another chance to fill out the form. We hope the reminder will be enough to encourage people to mail it in.

The census short form includes 10 questions about how many people living in a home, whether those people are related, age and race. Answers are confidential and can't be obtained by law enforcement or tax collection agencies.

So there's no reason not to fill out the form and quite a few reasons to fill it out and mail it in.

It's especially important that each person is counted in our area and state because these numbers affect the number of seats the state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. There's been talk that Minnesota could lose a seat.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the census will help communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for projects such as hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects, and emergency services.

The goal is to increase mail response rates in areas that had low mail response rates in 2000 and decrease expensive door to door follow up operations.

A door-to-door follow up costs about $57 per household, according to the Census Bureau. A questionnaire returned by mail costs 42 cents. It makes sense to simply mail back the form.

So, here's your second chance. Please fill out your 2010 U.S. Census form.

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