The Midwest leads the country in census forms returned by mail. Wisconsin is number one in the nation at 80% and Minnesota is close behind with 78%. The national rate is 71%. Cook County is doing better than 10 years ago, but still is bottoming out at a low 40% participation rate. The mail participation rateis the percentage of forms mailed back by households that received them.
Fear of losing a congressional seat may be fueling the high response even though the state became a focus of anti-census backlash – mostly through the efforts of 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and lukewarm support from Governor Tim Pawlenty.
One reason Cook County may be lagging behind the pack is that census forms are mailed only to physical addresses, not P.O. boxes. Households without a physical address should start to see census takers at their doors in May. Many residences were canvassed earlier, or census packets were left hanging on door knobs. The U.S. Census website is currently only listing mail participation, because the participation data is current and firm.