• Tom Genes

PITKIN County Census Running Behind

2020 Census responses by Pitkin County residents are 31.6 percent behind Colorado as a whole, although many residents are second homeowners and thus, complete the census at their primary residence. Even with that consideration, the local response rate is still behind the 2010 response rate by 4 percentage points. As of August 21, Pitkin County’s response rate is 35.9%, Aspen’s is 34% and Snowmass Village’s is 25.8% vs Colorado’s 67.5%. Colorado as a whole is 3.4 points above the national response rate.

Eagle County’s response rate is similar to Pitkin County’s – 35.7% – while the Garfield County response of 63.9% exceeds its 2010 rate by 3 percentage points. The final deadline for all data collection for the Census has been moved up to September 30.

Without more responses, Pitkin and Eagle Counties stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding over the next ten years. For every person who fails to fill out the 10-question census form, Colorado will lose $23,000 over the next ten years in funding for critical health, emergency and educational services.

According to Rachel Brenneman, campaign director for the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee (www.a2pcensus2020.com), “Census rates shape the future of our communities. The data informs how billions of dollars nationwide are distributed for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives and other critical programs and services.”

In addition to funding vital community programs, the census numbers also help dictate the political representation of the state in the US Congress. Colorado hopes to gain an 8th congressional seat.

Emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Grizzly Creek fire illustrate how important it is to get a complete count through the US Census. Together with the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) information, census data allows scientists and health care experts to model the potential impacts of emerging health threats like COVID-19 and fires. That enables them to anticipate needs and advise the nation’s policymakers on the expected demand for resources.

Due to delays caused by COVID-19, the Census Bureau in late June or early July sent all households with PO boxes an invitation to go online or to call to fill out their census. Census forms could only be sent to those who receive home mail delivery. In Pitkin County, 35% of all households receive their mail through a PO Box instead of home delivery.

The Census Bureau’s “non-response follow-up” is happening now. They’ve actually stepped up their activities to reach non-responding households. Those include more than just census workers knocking on doors and leaving a “Notice of Visit” if they aren’t home. Other ways they are helping people to complete the census include following up by phone, mailing additional paper questionnaires to non-responsive households in the lowest response areas, emailing households with a response rate under 50%, and launching a mobile questionnaire assistance program at locations such as grocery stores and pharmacies in geographic areas with low responses.

Individuals can complete their census online at www.2020census.gov. Click the “Respond” button and then the link in the blue box that says “Start Questionnaire.” On the next page, fill in your census ID or click the link below the census ID box that says, “If you don’t have a Census ID, click here.” You may also respond via telephone at 844-330-2020 or by mailing back the form residents received. The census is available in 72 languages.

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