October 21, 2010 | U.S. Census Bureau | Original Article

Take 10 Map: 2010 Participation Rates

America participated! 74 percent of households in the United States filled out and mailed back their 2010 Census questionnaire, a significant achievement in a time of declining survey participation worldwide. The results include an additional 2 percentage points of households that mailed back their forms after the April 27 cut-off that marked the transition to the door-to-door follow up operation. Although received too late to prevent a visit by a census taker, those late- arriving forms were still used for tabulating purposes. Both today's final rate of 74 percent and the 72 percent acheived in April, matched the rates achieved during the 2000 Census.

2010 Census National Participation Rate: 74%


Why Mail "Participation" Rate Is A Fairer Measure than Mail Response Rate

The Mail Participation Rate is the percentage of forms mailed back by households that received them. The Census Bureau developed this new measure in 2010, in part because of the current economy and higher rates of vacant housing. The rate excludes households whose forms were returned to us by the U.S. Postal Service as “undeliverable,” strongly suggesting the house was vacant. We will still follow up on all these housing units to ensure everyone is counted.

Mail Participation Rate is a higher number than the Mail Response Rate we have used over the last decade, but it is a better measure of actual participation and therefore an easier goal to achieve when residents mail back their forms. In 2000, the national Mail Response Rate was 67% and the comparable national Mail Participation Rate was 72%. The Mail Response Rate is important to help us plan for the important door-to-door workload that begins in May during which we visit all households that have not returned a census form.