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North Kitsap a focus for Census Bureau

KINGSTON — The U.S. Census Bureau can’t count on North Kitsap.

In the 2000 Census, parts of Kingston and Hansville had 10 percent fewer returned census forms than the county average. It’s a shortfall the bureau is working to shore up in the 2010 count, which begins April 1.

“Kingston is an area that doesn’t return a lot of census forms, and that will hurt Kingston in the long run,” said Silverdale Census Office Manager Brian Maule, who oversees counting in five counties.

The 10 percent shortfall might seem slim, but it’s costly both to the bureau and the community, Maule said.

Census counts govern the number of seats each state is given in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the numbers are also used by federal agencies to determine funding allocations. About $400 billion is distributed by the federal government each year based on census numbers.

On a nationwide average, each person not numbered in the census can account for $1,400 a year in lost funding to their region.

Lost funding isn’t the only cost created by census dodgers.

The Census Bureau counts most residents by mailing them forms. If a form isn’t sent back, a census worker will have to count the household in person, which costs $80 to $90 per visit.

“When you don’t return you form, we have to come to your doorstep and numerate you,” Maule said.

It’s not entirely clear why parts of North Kitsap have lower census returns.

Maule said the two sovereign tribal nations, Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam, present a challenge for counting and outreach.

The number of vacation houses in North Kitsap could also contribute to the lower counts, but Maule believes that’s only a small factor. Overall, the scattered and unincorporated communities around Kingston make the area a little harder to count he said. The bureau has been working with the tribes and North End community groups to spread census awareness.

When it comes to boots-on-the-ground counting, the bureau is hiring help.

Applicants for temporary census jobs will be interviewed in Indianola this month. A variety of shifts and positions are available and the jobs pay $13.25 or more per hour. (See calendar on page 8 for dates.) The Silverdale office will hire about 1,500 people this year.

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