Government report says it cost $56 per household to conduct 2000 census

Wednesday, December 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ To count the largest population in U.S. history, the government spent about $6.5 billion for the 2000 census _ about $56 per apartment or home, federal auditors say.

The 1990 census came to $3.3 million _ about $32 for each housing unit.

Most of that increase was attributed to improvements in how the Census Bureau collected information, said the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. That included the hiring of 440,000 temporary workers to track down the millions of households that did not return a form.

Associate bureau director John Thompson agreed Wednesday that costs rose, but was disappointed the GAO report did not talk about improvements in the census.

The percentage of homes that returned a form in 2000 equaled 1990's response rate, reversing decades of decline.

The bureau also has said it missed fewer people this time around than 1990, though critics argue minority groups still were undercounted more than whites.

``We don't think the report recognizes the full extent of the improvements between 1990 census and 2000 census to justify the costs,'' Thompson said.

The GAO dollar figures were based on 117.3 million housing units in 2000, and 104 million units in 1990. A housing unit is any home or apartment, occupied or vacant.

The census found 281.4 million people living in America on April 1, 2000, a 13 percent increase from 1990.