Laguna Woods, a South County retirement village, so far has the county’s highest participation rate at 71%, and Santa Ana has the lowest at 44%.
Newport Beach, 46%, and Costa Mesa, 45%, are two from the bottom of the list. Nearby Huntington Beach fared better, winding up in the middle, at 52%.
The county’s mail participation rate was 77% for the last census in 2000, so Orange County residents have some catching up to do.
Beginning this month, census takers will begin visiting households to count people manually in homes that have not returned the forms. The Census Bureau is hiring an estimated 1.4 million temporary workers nationwide to complete the census, according to the bureau’s website.
The census form asks 10 questions about every man, woman and child in each household. The questions are about the person’s name, date of birth, race, ethnicity and primary residence.
The results of the census, delivered to the president in December, will be used to divvy up more than $400 billion of federal funding each year among communities across the country. The data help determine how many schools, hospitals, senior centers and infrastructure projects each community needs.
The federal government is required by the Constitution to conduct a census every 10 years, but political conservatives recently have objected to the inclusion of questions about race. Many believe that the census has become politicized, and that Democrats are trying to over-count minorities and immigrants.
By the numbers
Orange County participation rates in the U.S. census as of Thursday, from highest to lowest:
Laguna Woods, 77%
Seal Beach, 64%
Villa Park, 61%
Fountain Valley and La Palma, 59%
Yorba Linda, 57%
Mission Viejo, Los Alamitos and Westminster, 55%
Laguna Hills, Placentia and Brea, 54%
Garden Grove, 53%
Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach and Orange, 52%
San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Buena Park and La Habra, 51%
Fullerton and Rancho Santa Margarita, 50%
Stanton and Dana Point, 49% Anaheim, Tustin and Irvine, 48%
Newport Beach, 46%
Costa Mesa, 45%
Santa Ana, 44%