July 13, 2002 Interviewers from the University of the Virgin Islands will fan out across the islands during July and August to conduct this year's Virgin Islands Community Survey.
They will call on about 5 percent of V.I. households this year to collect information on housing and population. Housing questions will cover such items as number of rooms, utilities, ownership and mortgage. Population questions cover items such as ethnic origin, age, sex, education, employment and income.
The university requests the cooperation of the public when interviewers carrying UVI identification and paraphernalia visit households. Unlike the U.S. Census Bureau's V.I. Census conducted every 10 years, this is a sample survey, and not every household will be contacted. As with the census, all information gathered will be kept confidential. UVI says each respondent by contributing valid data will assist in Virgin Islands community development.
Last year, the territory's first scientific sampling of 5 percent of households was conducted, with interviewers using the same data collection questionnaire being utilized now. The results were released in June. Rameshwar Srivastava, research professor and statistician at UVI's Eastern Caribbean Center, said a different set of households will be contacted this time, and so on in years to come. Presumably, only one interview per household will occur within the nine years between censuses.
"In the United States, one-in-six sampling with the long questionnaire has been the norm for the census year," Srivastava said. "But in the Virgin Islands, it was presented to 100 percent of households."
The net effect to residents under the new method will be about the same: approximately one interview per household per 10 years. The long questionnaire will no longer be a part of the every-10-years Census taking.
With new data being collected annually, more timely statistics will become available between V.I. Census events. Updated information is a vital component of organizing and planning for social, educational, health, economic and other community needs. One important demand for the information is the statistical requirement of federal grant writing, a UVI release stated. Often the funds awarded are linked to a fair share based on population segment statistics.
For the 50 states, the annual American Community Survey similarly collects data between Census years, using forms modeled to the specific needs of the individual states. In keeping with trends on the U.S. mainland, the V.I. survey in 2001 also collected additional data via an Economic and Political Opinion Supplement. Also administered by UVI interviewers, the supplemental survey was of residents' opinions on local government and social issues. The findings were widely reported by news media and were eye opening for the community as well as for government officials, the release stated. (See "V.I. polls look at public policy views, poverty".)
UVI is the only university under the U.S. flag that conducts the decennial Census. Frank Mills, Eastern Caribbean Center director, was operations supervisor of the 1980 V.I. Census and manager of the 1990 one. He has worked closely with federal officials in designing the questionnaires to be used locally.
For more information, call the Eastern Caribbean Center at 693-1020.
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