Long-Form Census Will Be Used, House Panel Leader Says

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The long-form questionnaire will be used in the 2000 census, the chairman of the subcommittee overseeing the census, said earlier this month.

Rep. Dan Miller (R-FL), chairman of the subcommittee on Census 2000, made the comment during an oversight hearing to review the need for these questionnaires and to give users a chance to demonstrate why the information should be collected. The long form, which is sent to about one-sixth of the population, contains 52 questions vs. the short form's seven.

"This is the first time anyone in a position of authority in Congress -- in an influential committee position -- acknowledged publicly that there will be the traditional long form in the Census 2000 and that there are no immediate plans to take it away," said TerriAnne Lowenthal of the Coalition to Preserve Census Data, Washington, who attended the hearing.

While this is good news for marketers who want the additional information for their programs, Lowenthal said that Miller never came out in support of the long form nor did he say that he understands why the data is necessary.

"[Nor] did he say that [the long form] will be sent to the same-size sample of households the Census Bureau proposed or that he will support all the questions proposed," she said.

There also is a chance the bureau's proposals will be cut because the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the census budget, hasn't appropriated money for its 1999 fiscal-year budget.

"The size of the sample of households that receive the long form, which determines the level of detail available for this data, could still be cut," Lowenthal said.

Marketers, meanwhile, are continuing to make their needs known to Congress.

"Business and industry use census data to make decisions that promote economic growth and improve the quality of life in communities across the country," said David Crow, who represented the coalition at the hearing. "Private business could not possibly replicate the data collection accomplished in the decennial census."

Crow used the example of Target stores, a subsidiary of Dayton-Hudson Corp. and a member of the coalition, which has several department stores in this year's census dress-rehearsal areas. To help the bureau promote participation, Target produced shopping bags bearing the logo "Census 2000: How America Knows What America Needs."

"I am confident that this in-kind of contribution on the part of Target stores will be replicated in 2000 by dozens if not hundreds of businesses who know how important and accurate a thorough census is to the future of the communities they serve," Crow said.
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