Census Bureau goes Hollywood for 2000 count
November 7, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Census Bureau is gearing up for a massive head count. Every 10 years, the government tries to count every single person who calls the United States home.
Beginning in March 2000, the Census Bureau will mail a census form to every household in the nation, hoping residents will fill it out and send it back. But counting the estimated 275 million U.S. residents will not be that simple.
Many Americans can't be bothered with more paperwork. Some don't trust the government to keep their personal information confidential. And, some Americans aren't sure what the census is.
In an effort to educate Americans, Washington is taking a Hollywood approach, kicking off a multimillion dollar advertising campaign, according to Commerce Secretary William Daley.
"During its peak in March and April, only Big Macs and Whoppers will be more dominant on TV than our census ads," Daley said.
The campaign includes more than 52 different commercials in 17 languages, Daley said, and will cost taxpayers $6.5 billion. Ten years ago, the price tag was $4.8 billion, but participation was not as high as officials hoped and ethnic minority groups were grossly miscounted.
"They missed 500,000 people that reside in the state of Texas in the 1990 census," Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) said. "Two-hundred-fifty thousand were Hispanic."
The Census Bureau is hoping 61 percent of Americans will return the form in the mail. The cost to taxpayers is $4 per survey if it's mailed in. The price goes up to $36 per survey if Census Bureau workers must go door-to-door to complete unmailed forms in person.
The survey should be important to all Americans. The data determines the allocation of about $2 trillion in government funding for everything from schools, to highways and to hospitals until the next census in 2010.
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