Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 131-10
March 24, 2010


Only Six Percent of Census Forms have been Returned by NYC Residents, Lagging Far behind National Rate

More than $25 Billion in Annual Federal Funds Based on Census Data

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today detailed the low early response rate from New York City residents to the 2010 Census and continued the City’s efforts to encourage all New Yorkers to quickly return 2010 Census forms to ensure a full and accurate count of all New York City residents. As of today, only six percent of 2010 Census forms have been returned by City households. Census forms began hitting mailboxes last week and the nationwide rate of census participation currently stands at 16 percent. The City’s Census Office, a new entity created by the Mayor to support Federal efforts, has formed local partnerships across the five boroughs with community organizations, cultural and educational institutions, faith-based organizations, immigrant advocacy groups and others to spread the word that all New Yorkers have something to gain and nothing to fear by filling out the census form, as all information is kept confidential, in accordance with Federal law. Last week, the Mayor visited a school in Flushing, Queens to encourage students to impress upon their parents the importance of the census and implore their parents to return the form. Today the Mayor urged New Yorkers to return their census forms while speaking to seniors at the Cypress Hills-Fulton Street Senior Center in Brooklyn.

“New York City is the poster child for a ‘hard to count’ population, but we simply have to do better – there is too much at stake,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “If we don’t turn it around, we risk having even more of our tax dollars sent to other states. No one has anything to fear from filling out the census form, but we all have a lot to lose if city residents do not send the form back.”

The New York City response rate as of today, by county, is as follows:

  • Bronx County – 2 percent
  • Kings County – 6 percent
  • New York County – 7 percent
  • Queens County – 6 percent
  • Richmond County – 16 percent

Some neighborhoods that have had a particularly low early response rate to date include:

  • Most of Jamaica, Queens – less than 2 percent
  • Lower East Side, Manhattan – less than 2 percent
  • A portion of Ocean Hill, Brooklyn – no forms returned
  • A portion of Soundview, Bronx – no forms returned

New Yorkers that need assistance filling out a census form can call 311 or visit to receive assistance in multiple languages or be directed to one of nearly 1,300 Questionnaire Assistance Centers, operated by the U.S. Census Bureau, open at locations around the city to provide assistance in multiple languages.

More than $25 billion of annual Federal funds are distributed to New York City based on the decennial census, including funding for schools, counter-terrorism and security efforts, and social service organizations. Elected representation at the federal, state and local levels is also determined by census data. In the 2000 Census, the response rate in New York City was 55 percent, well below the national average of 67 percent. In many neighborhoods, like Downtown Flushing, Central Brooklyn or South Jamaica, the response rate was below 40 percent.

The City’s Census Office has been working with community organizations, cultural and educational institutions, faith-based organizations, labor unions, immigrant advocacy groups and others, utilizing each group’s existing networks to distribute information about the census. The key component of the City’s efforts has been informing the public that under federal law, the personal information collected by the census is entirely confidential and cannot be shared with any federal, state, or city agency.

The City’s Census Office has provided thousands of posters and brochures in several languages for display at City offices and conducted workshops with resident associations at New York City Housing Authority facilities, where response rates have been historically low. Working with NYC & Company, the City’s Census Office has also placed 2010 Census bus shelter ads in many hard-to-count neighborhoods throughout the City.   

City schools are being encouraged to utilize a “Census in Schools” curriculum, which offers educators an easy way to incorporate information about the census into their lesson plans and teaches students the importance of the census. Additionally, City schools sent a letter to go home with every student last week encouraging parents to fill out their census form and explaining the importance of ensuring every New Yorker is counted.

The City’s census efforts also have included working with the U.S. Census New York Regional Office to identify properties that were not a part of the national mailing list. The Department of City Planning has identified more than 127,000 apartments or homes – nearly 4 percent of all the housing units in the city with approximately 300,000 residents – that were not a part of the planned census form mailing list. Those homes will now be receiving the census form.

The census response rate in New York City has traditionally lagged well behind the national average. The low response rate in the City is due to a combination of factors, including the large population of immigrants, who may have privacy concerns, a fear or mistrust of government or face language barriers. To view a map detailing the 2000 Census response rate for each census tract in New York City, visit

New York City has the highest percentage of “hard-to-count” residents of any city in the nation. The Census Bureau’s research has identified three main factors that make people “hard to-count”:

  • Being economically disadvantaged;
  • Being unattached or mobile, which includes renters and single men and women; and
  • Living in high density areas.

New York City’s “hard-to-count” demographic profile also includes: 

  • More than 3 million foreign-born residents, with one-fifth (approximately 600,000 people) arriving since 2000;
  • The largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia;
  • More people of Caribbean ancestry than in any city outside of the Caribbean;
  • More than 2.27 million Hispanics, more than any other city in the United States;
  • Nearly 2 million residents of African descent, which is more than double the amount in any other U.S. city – communities with high populations of residents of African descent historically have had low census response rates; and
  • Residents speaking more than 200 languages, with almost half of all New Yorkers speaking a language other than English at home.

Since the year 2000, New York City’s population has increased by 4.8 percent.  The City’s population stands at 8,392,881 according the July 2009 U.S. Census Bureau estimate.


Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

More Resources
Watch the video in low or high bandwidth