Census staff due in county through July

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Canvassers employed by the U.S. Census Bureau will be seen working in Vicksburg and Warren County neighborhoods through July, according to agency timelines.

Teams of individuals with laptop computers or small, handheld devices much like PDAs are updating databases showing total housing units and living quarters as part of the initial phase of the national census, to be followed up with the mass mailing of forms to residences by mid-March 2010.

Population estimates completed by the agency for 2008 show Warren County with 48,087 residents. It stood at 49,644 following the 2000 Census, which was up nearly 2,000 from 1990. Slight drops have been recorded in estimates since then, done through statistical sampling. Locally, this year’s county total is down by nearly 800 from 2007.

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Inside Vicksburg, the count was 26,407 in 2000, up nearly 5,500 from 1990. The 2007 estimate had the municipal population at 25,454. Municipal estimates for 2008 in Mississippi are incomplete.

Training for a Complete Count Committee of about 20 local individuals should wrap up this week. Along with some faith-based organizations, the committee will act as liaisons to the community so people can identify the canvassers and return their forms when they receive them.

“Some have actually called the police on them,” said Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Kelvin Rankin. “They are verifying if a residence actually exists where they are working.” Census workers carry identification.

Both local governing bodies have pledged to work through the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce

Non-statistical information gathered in the Census is protected from disclosure. It is against federal law for Census Bureau employees to disclose or publish any private information, nor can any authority obtain personal identifiable data from the agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Violation of disclosure laws by Census employees can result in five-year federal prison sentences, fines up to $250,000, or both.

Census Bureau representatives working in Mississippi declined to specify how many canvassers are deployed in individual counties. More than 15,000 will be employed in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to a bureau release.

Census counts have been taken every 10 years in the United States since 1790. Shifts dictate states’ representation in Congress, in the state Legislature and down to local district lines for city wards, school board and supervisor seats. Local governments have an interest because of the counts’ effects on federal funding for items such as infrastructure and social programs.

Warren County’s return rate in the 2000 Census was about 63 percent, same as the statewide average. Mississippi lost a U.S. House seat in the 2000 Census. The state’s population stood at just more than 2.9 million in recent estimates.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at dbarrett@vicksburgpost.com