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Letter To Benjamin Rosenthal From Congressional Research Service The Library Of Congress - Census Response From Queens, N.Y. 1980



Letter To Benjamin Rosenthal From Congressional Research Service The Library Of Congress - Census Response From Queens, N.Y. 1980


Letter to Benjamin Rosenthal about poor response rate to the Census Questionnaires in Queens.


Rosenthal, Benjamin
Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service
Government questionnaires
Queens (New York, N.Y.)


Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service




Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives (New York, N.Y.)




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Queens (New York. N.Y.)


Congressional Research Service
The Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540

April 16, 1980

To: The Honorable Benjamin Rosenthal
From: Dan Melnick, Specialist, Government Division
Subject: Response to the Census Questionnaires in Queens

This memorandum responds to your request for information on the response to the census questionnaire in Queens. The information presented was provided to me by the Bureau of the Census, and is current as of the close of business Monday, April 14, 1980. Because follow-up activities are beginning today, the return received by the 14th is a major determinant of the amount of follow-up work which will be required in each district office.

Table 1 presents the percentage of forms returned for Queens, the New York Regional Office, and the Nation. The percentages were based on the Bureau's estimate of the proportion of the housing units that are vacant. The Bureau's statisticians have assumed that about 3 percent of the housing units in Queens are vacant compared with about 8.5 percent of the housing units in the Nation. The true vacancy rate will not be known until the Bureau completes its follow-up activities.

TABLE 1. Percent of Census Forms Received From Occupied Housing Units
April 10 April 14
Northwest Queens 47.5 50.8
Southeast Queens 53.2 63.0
Northeast Queens 61.1 70.7
West Queens 60.6 68.3
New York Region 69.5 74.0
Nationally 82.5 86.6

Table 1 shows that there was only a 3.3 percent increase in the returns to the Northwest Queens office from April 10th to the 14th. This might possibly be due to a problem in the postal delivery of the forms or their check in because the Bureau reported that no new forms were received on Monday. In comparison, Southeast Queens received 2,269 Northeast Queens received 7,442 and West Queens received 7,197 forms on Monday.

While New York City has been difficult to enumerate for at least the last 100 years, (disputes about the count occurred in 1880, 1890, and 1920) the response rates in Queens in 1980 are less than the response received in 1970. While the census office boundaries have changed somewhat since then, the four district offices in Queens in 1970 had response rates of 91%, 81%, 78%, and 79%. The National response rate in 1970 was 87%.

The lower response rates for Queens in 1980 does not necessarily mean that there will be less accurate count of the population; but it does mean that the follow-up job the Bureau will have to perform will be much larger and more complicated that it would have otherwise been. Mr. Stanley Matchet of the Field Division told me that the Bureau had planned for a response rate of about 60 percent in places like Queens. He thought that the reported response rates were well within the range of their estimates and that they would be in a position to do the necessary field work.

Evelyn Mann of the New York City Planning Department told me that because of the low response rate, New York City was going to make a special effort to obtain a better response by circulating additional literature and arranging for sound trucks to circulate through the effected neighborhoods urging people to answer the census. She was troubled that as of Tuesday, although the workers in the local census offices have been helpful, the city had not received all of the publicity literature it needs from the Census Bureau.

If there is any other way in which I can be of assistance to you please do not hesitate to call me on 287-6539.

Original Format

8.5 x 11 inches (216 x 279 mm)


Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service, “Letter To Benjamin Rosenthal From Congressional Research Service The Library Of Congress - Census Response From Queens, N.Y. 1980,” Queens College Archives and Special Collections, accessed February 18, 2019,