COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - After logging record-setting improvements in its response rate, South Carolina enters the next phase of the 2010 Census poised to have its best count in decades.
South Carolina's 2010 Census mail participation rate is 73 percent, up 8 percent from 2000, which ties the Palmetto State with North Carolina for the nation's biggest improvement in census mail response. The national rate is 72 percent as of Friday.
In both 2000 and 1990, South Carolina had the nation's second-worst mail response rate. As of April 23, South Carolina was tied for 19th in the nation.
"South Carolinians have heard the call to stand up and be counted this year," said Bobby Bowers, who leads the state's census effort as director of the SC Budget and Control Board's Office of Research and Statistics. "The response to the census has far exceeded our hopes and we deeply appreciate the partners at both the federal and local level who have helped us register this fantastic improvement."
This year, South Carolina conducted its most intensive state-level census campaign to supplement federal outreach efforts, which included special initiatives to improve address databases used to send out census forms and targeted public awareness campaigns.
Mail returns improved in all regions of the state and especially in hard-to-count rural areas, with the biggest gainer being Allendale County, which saw its mail return rate skyrocket from a state-worst 45 percent in 2000 to 72 percent this year. Edgefield, Calhoun, Georgetown, Clarendon and Fairfield counties also logged mail response gains of 20 percent or more. Half of the state's 46 counties recorded double-digit gains in the percentage of residences responding to the census and all but two improved from their 2000 scores.
The latest rates for all states, counties, places, towns and townships can be found on the Take 10 Challenge Map.
Starting May 1, U.S. Census Bureau employees will visit residences that did not send back their forms to conduct the survey. They also will verify that housing units indicated as "unoccupied" by the USPS or others are indeed unoccupied and vacant.
"While we have done great so far, the 2010 Census is not over," Bowers said. "It's crucial for those who have not been counted yet to open their doors to the census taker."
Census data is used to distribute more than $400 billion in federal aid for programs such as road construction, career education and health care. Census population data also determines each state's representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and local seats in the South Carolina General Assembly.
2010 v. 2000 Rate of Return