WASHINGTON (AP) â€” Two weeks before a self-imposed deadline, the Census Bureau has reached over 99 percent of the 42 million households that failed to return a questionnaire, Census director Kenneth Prewitt said Wednesday.
Census-takers have 100,000 of the 42 million homes left to track down, said Prewitt, who had hoped to have the current operation complete around July 7.
``This is a good census,'' Prewitt said at a news conference at the National Press Club. ``Every major operation has performed better than expected. We've continually been on or ahead of schedule.''
The Census Bureau mailed forms out to 120 million homes in March, and at least 78 million households were returned, Prewitt said. That number could climb even higher in the next couple months as the agency sorts through late, incoming responses.
Census operations are far from over, though, he said. The Census Bureau is conducting quality control checks of enumerators' work.
Also this week, enumerators began at-home visits for its ``Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation,'' a separate, random sample of 314,000 households around the country. Results from that operation will be used to statistically adjust data from the real population count, a process known as ``sampling,'' which Democrats support and Republicans oppose.
Supporters of sampling say it helps account for portions of the population historically missed in the census, including the poor, minorities, inner-city residents that tend to vote Democrat.
Currently, it is up to states to decide whether to use sampled or actual data as a basis for redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines. Republicans, in general, fear that sampling could skew political districts in Democrats' favor.