COVINGTON -- Mail response rates for the U.S. Census in Newton County topped the state average as Friday marked the cut off day for residents to mail in their forms and avoid having a census worker knock on their doors in the coming weeks.
Sixty-eight percent of census forms mailed in Newton County have been returned as of Friday. The state's response rate is 65 percent.
Households that return their forms after Friday will likely be visited by census workers when they begin going door-to-door to collect census responses May 1.
Lynn Parham, Census 2010 coordinator for Newton County, encouraged residents who had not filled out their forms to do so and mail them in as they will be accepted past Friday's deadline.
"First and foremost, you can still mail it in," she said. "They still have the capability to check into their regional offices to see who has mailed in a form. That may not be the case if you mailed it in two days before they go out."
She added that even if you mailed in the form, a census worker may still come to your door if the form was not filled out completely or the information is illegible. "They are trying to get the best count possible."
Parham said Newton County has done very well in this year's census with all census tracts reporting response rates in the low 60 percentages and above.
"My local rep from the Census Bureau has said everything is going great in Newton County, and we're trudging along," she said.
Residents in cities have responded well to the census. Covington is at 65 percent and Porterdale is 63 percent. Oxford, Mansfield and Newborn response rates are in the low 70s.
Even an area targeted to be a low response rate has done better than expected. Residents in the census tracts around Kirkland and Fairview roads have mailed in 63 percent of their forms.
Nationwide, about 68 percent of households have mailed back census forms. In 2000, the mail participation rate was 72 percent.
The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years to count the population. Census data determines boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. Also, each year the federal government allocates more than $400 billion to states and local governments based in part on census data.
For more information on the census, visit www.2010.census.gov or stop by the Covington-Newton County Welcome Center at 2101 Clark St. in Covington.