WASHINGTON - Let the count begin.
More than 120 million U.S. census forms began arriving yesterday in mailboxes around the country, in the government's once-a-decade population count that will be used to divvy up congressional seats and more than $400 billion in federal aid.
Fast-growing states in the South and the West could stand to lose the most because of lower-than-average mail participation rates in 2000 and higher shares of Hispanics and young adults, who are among the least likely to mail in their forms.
Did those $2.5 million Super Bowl ads work? Stay tuned.
"When you receive your 2010 census, please fill it out and mail it back," said Census Bureau director Robert Groves, who kicked off the campaign yesterday.
Mr. Groves is urging cities and states to promote the census and improve upon rates in 2000, when about 72 percent of U.S. households returned their forms.
If everyone who receives a census form mails it back, the government would save an estimated $1.5 billion in follow-up visits.