Missouri Census officials kicked off census mailings at the Capitol Monday. They’re urging residents to be counted.

Click image to go to official U.S. Census Web site

Click image to go to official U.S. Census Web site

The U.S. Census Bureau sent out census questionnaires this week. Census spokesman Eddie Hall says a lot depends on how many Missourians make the tally sheet. Hall says many residents are worried that Missouri could lose a seat in Congress, and rightfully so. However, he says if everyone fills out their forms and returns them, Missouri will keep all nine congressional seats.

He says there are only ten questions on the census form, and privacy is protected. They’re due back by April first.

It was a veritable party on the Capitol lawn, where census officials handed people cups, keychains and other “reminders” so that people will make it a priority to fill out their questionaires and send them in. Live entertainment and free hot dogs topped the event.

Hall says officials are making a big deal about it so people know … it’s a big deal.

More than $400 billion is allocated annually by the federal government, and they base those allocations on census numbers. Hall says in order for Missouri to get its fair share, everyone needs to be counted.

The census is taken once every ten years. Officials say more than 30 percent of Missourians did not return their census forms in 2000, but that the Midwest still had a better return rate than other areas in the U.S. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 5.59 million people living in Missouri. Current estimates put us at about 6 million.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen Mp3, 1:06]