Carbon County residents did their bit to comply with the U.S. Census 2010 head count sort of.
Although the county as a whole falls short of the national average, with 69 percent of residents mailing back their forms as opposed to 72 percent nationally, the state as a whole, townships and boroughs more than made up for the slow response.
U.S. Census officials on Wednesday released participation rates for the 2010 survey.
According to the U.S. Census website, Pennsylvania's return rate was 76 percent, the same as in the last Census in 2000. By county, Schuylkill's rate is 78 percent and Monroe's is 55 percent.
Breaking it down even further, Summit Hill has an 84 percent rate; Tamaqua 70 percent; Jim Thorpe 77 percent; Lehighton 79 percent, Palmerton 81 percent, Rush Township was 81 percent and West Penn Township 85 percent.
Participation is important: At stake is about $400 billion dollars in federal funding each year to be spent on hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, bridges, tunnels and other public works projects and emergency services, according to the U.S. Census.
"Just like we can't survive without roads and bridges, the country doesn't function well without an updated census to distribute funds to areas that most need them and to support community decisions about their own future," said Robert M. Groves, director of the United States Census Bureau.
Carbon County Commissioners Chairman William O'Gurek concurred.
"While it might seem unimportant to the average citizen, the census data is very valuable from the standpoint of government funding," he said. "Municipalities and counties receive funding based on population, and, obviously, the higher the population, the greater the revenue."
O'Gurek gave as an example the Community Development Block Grant program.
"Municipalities with a population of 4,000 or more have received a direct entitlement in the past. In Carbon, that means Lehighton, Palmerton, Franklin Township, Jim Thorpe and Lansford," he said. "The county also received an annual grant to share with smaller municipalities."
O'Gurek said it "could be likely more municipalities may qualify because their population reached that number (Mahoning Township is the likely one).
That would not only mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for that municipality, but also more money that the county can distribute to the remaining smaller towns and township."
The forms were to be mailed back by early this month. Now through July, Census takers will be knocking on doors to count those who failed to return their 10-question forms. All census takers carry a badge with a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date.
Some census workers might carry a U.S. Census Bureau bag as well.
The census taker will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the Local Census Office phone number for verification, if asked.
Do not respond to e-mails or telephone calls from people claiming to work for the U.S. Census, asking you for personal information. These are scams.
The 2010 Census form and the 2010 Census takers will not ask you for your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card number.
The 2010 Census form and the 2010 Census takers never solicit for donations and will never contact you by e-mail.
The U.S. Census will deliver the population counts to the president in December for apportionment, and by next March, the Census Bureau will have finished delivering redistricting data to states.