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Gov. Gregoire helps kickoff 2010 US Census

For Immediate Release: November 5, 2009

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today joined Seattle Regional Census Director Ralph Lee, Secretary of State Sam Reed and other elected leaders to help launch the 2010 U.S. Census. Information gathered by the census helps determine how more than $400 billion of federal funding each year is spent on projects and services.

“Today we are underscoring a very basic idea,” Gregoire said. “Count everyone – every person in Washington state. Old, young, male, female, from every background in every community. It’s going to be challenging. But there are many reasons it has to be done, and done right. If we ignore a group of people, or if we allow an area to go without an accurate count, we will not get our fair share of federal dollars, which our taxpayers deserve.”

The Census Bureau estimates the total federal funding amounts to $1,400 per person, per year. Missing just 100 people adds up to a loss of $1.4 million to the state over the next decade. Census counts also determine the number seats each state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This strong initiative will help define Washington,” said Lee. “The Census Bureau is relying heavily on state government and thousands of partners in its enormous task to count everyone, in the largest peacetime mobilization in US history.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke participated in today’s kickoff, calling in from Washington, D.C. Earlier this week at a Baltimore high school, Locke helped launch the Census in Schools program.

“The census is a vital part of our democracy and children have historically been undercounted,” Locke said during the launch. “When local schools decide to include census ideas in their curriculum, kids will learn about the important role the census has played throughout American history and increase their awareness of the upcoming 2010 census.”

This year’s census form contains just 10 questions, the least amount of questions since the 1790 census. Questions ask for name, gender, address, age, birth date, race, ethnicity and if the home the person is living in is owned or rented. All answers are kept confidential.