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Sour economy could affect census

  |   April 5, 2009 at 10:27 PM
HOUSTON, April 5 (UPI) -- The 2010 U.S. Census could be compromised because of the nation's economic climate and a fear of government workers, officials said.

About 140,000 Census Bureau canvassers began last week to update a registry of addresses to prepare for next years population count, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

Terri Ann Lowenthal, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, said she's "sounding the alarm" about the troubles economic problems could present for census takers. A major concern is counting people who have been forced from their homes by foreclosure.

"The census is household-based," Lowenthal said. "It is designed to count people where they usually live. It does a very good job when people are in easily to identify housing units, but it may be challenging otherwise."

There is also a worry that immigrants and minorities could be undercounted because they are often wary of government workers.

"It will very hard for the census worker trying to get a welcome at the door when people are so scared of government officials at this point," said Laura Boston, an organizer with the Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center. "Regardless of them being from the census, there's not necessarily an understanding of who these people are and why they're asking for this information."

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