Director Robert Groves issued a statement this morning urging Texans to mail in the forms so that temporary workers don't have to collect the information in person. For every percentage point increase in mail response, the bureau estimates it saves $85 million in taxpayer money.
"We're concerned about the relatively low response from parts of Texas," he said in a press release. "Every household that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your form by mail."
The national response rate yesterday was 46 percent, while Texas remained 7 percentage points behind. Only one in four households in Brownsville, Groves noted, has responded. Others with low response rates include Brownsville (25%), Laredo (27%), Austin (33%), Houston (33%) and San Antonio (37%).
UPDATE: I've received several e-mails and comments about whether the April 1 officials Census Day precludes residents from sending in the forms early. Jenna Steormann Arnold, a spokeswoman for the bureau in Texas, said she mailed in the form on March 15, the day it arrived at her home. The bureau's director also urged residents to respond "promptly" in the letter he sent on March 8 to 130 million Americans. "The April 1 date is more of a snapshot," she said. "But people don't have to wait."