Ramping up for the 2010 census, Mesa is helping the federal government find out if there's anybody home.
Federal canvassers started hitting the street this week to make sure that residences are occupied and to determine whether multiple households are living in homes.
The benefit to the city and its residents might be best described as political clout, as well as greenbacks from the federal government.
"The census is used for reapportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the distribution of more than $300 billion in federal dollars every year to state and local governments," said Tom Mesenbourg, acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau.
On the local level, Mesa's census coordinator Jerry Dillehay said it's important that canvassers get addresses right in order to ensure that the correct number of questionnaires go to residences with multiple dwellings - and that everybody counts.
"In Mesa, that works out to $350 to $400 a resident," said Dillehay, who added that his office helped federal canvassers by digitizing maps the bureau uses to navigate through communities.
Dillehay said the count also affects the state's unemployment statistics, school funding, locations of future hospitals and even businesses.
"There's just so many things in everyday life," he said.
The information collection process started March 30 with the U.S. Census Bureau sending canvassers out with maps provided by the city to confirm addresses.
Dressed in white shirts and badges, bureau canvassers will work through June 3, when the data collection portion is supposed to be completed. That will come months before the bureau sends out questionnaires to those addresses.
Linda Bowen of the U.S. Census Bureau Phoenix office said her agency plans to start another round of hiring in September.
For information, contact the U.S. Census Bureau Office at (602) 427-0660.