This year's Census will give us a snap-shot of what the recession has been like. And economist Laura Dresser of U-W Madison's Center on Wisconsin Strategy is eager to see the results once they come out next year. Dresser says we've just gone through a "lost decade" in terms of jobs. That means Wisconsin has no more jobs today than it did in 2000. Dresser says the Census data will provide an inside story of how folks have been getting by in the state's tight job market.
The Census Bureau started mailing the forms yesterday. Most of us will have a short questionnaire about the people in our households. But about one-of-every-500 will get a longer form with more detailed questions about their lives.
The Census Bureau director reminds us that all forms are confidential - and not even the president could see somebody else's form if he asked. Only statistical totals will be released. Some communities, including Green Bay, have held drives to encourage people to fill out their Census forms - because the more who fill them out, the more funding their community gets for roads, schools, health facilities, and other programs. Those who don't mail back their forms by mid-April will get visited by Census takers.