PLANO, Texas (7/27/10)--Kathleen Cooper, an economist and senior fellow at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, will speak at Southwest Corporate FCU’s 33rd Annual Economic Forum, Oct. 26. Online registration begins today. In addition to providing a forecast on U.S. economic trends for credit unions, Cooper also will discuss the impact of innovation on the economy. She has served on the Commerce Department’s advisory committee for Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy. Cooper was under secretary for Economic Affairs of the U.S. Department of Commerce from 2001 to 2005, where she oversaw the activities of the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. She helped to advocate changes that netted a 72% “mail-back rate”--up from 69% in 2000 and 65% in 1990. Even though the once-a-decade census is constitutionally mandated, it helps to determine seats in the House of Representatives and serves as a guide as the federal government divvies up some $400 billion to support local infrastructures, the process is often viewed with public skepticism, Cooper said. In the past, most households received a short census form that took only minutes to complete. About one-sixth of households now receive the “long form,” which contained nearly 50 questions and asked about mortgage payments, what time residents leave to go to work and indoor plumbing. The “long form” questions are necessary to help understand the condition and character of America’s population, but the process still seems intrusive to some, Cooper said. Cooper recommended "de-linking" the long form from the head counting process more commonly associated with the census. The long form process, now known as the American Community Survey, was implemented several years ago. The survey takes a more statistical approach to building the national portrait. This year, all households received only the shorter, 10-question census form. Between the shorter form and an advertising campaign to promote awareness, participation continued to climb. The more people who returned the forms, the fewer door-to-door census workers were needed to complete the mandated count, Cooper said. For more information, use the link.