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NewsNew York

New push for census as response rates lag in the city

If you still haven’t been counted, Thursday's the day.

With only about a third of New Yorkers having mailed back their census forms, government officials and community leaders hope people will consider Thursday  – the date listed on forms – as the deadline and get their responses in.

“We think it’s going to mean a major jolt in the numbers,” said Rafael Dominguez, partnership coordinator in the Census Bureau’s New York office.

Though forms were sent out two weeks ago, the questions ask people to give information about their household “as of April 1,” so the bureau has dubbed it “Census Day,” figuring some are waiting until now.

There will be events across the city to encourage participation, including a rally at 3 p.m. at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn, as well as tables set up by elected officials at subway stations.

Starting around May 1, about 170,000 census takers will begin visiting the homes of people who have not responded. A spokeswoman for the Census Bureau said the agency was having difficulty recruiting people in several areas of the city because of problems passing the test, though she would not say where.

As of Thursday, Staten Island had the city’s best response rate, at 41 percent, and Brooklyn the worst, with 30 percent. Both were below the national average of 50 percent.

“I am encouraged that New Yorkers have begun sending back their census forms by the hundreds of thousands, but there is still a very long way to go,” said Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez, who appeared in the Bronx with Gov. David Paterson.

The census, a nationwide count conducted every 10 years, determines how some $26 billion in federal aid is spent in New York City on everything from schools to hospitals to roads. It also determines districts for state, local and federal representatives.

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