Grand County Census return rate trails national rate
April 19, 2010
GRAND COUNTY – Census returns are lagging in Grand County, with only a 31 percent return rate recorded to date.
In view of return rates among Colorado’s resort-mountain communities, however, Grand County is not alone, according to Census media specialist Deb Cameron.
The national participation rate is presently at 67 percent, with Colorado meeting the national rate at 66 percent.
But resort-influenced counties affected by mud seasons and known for their high second-home populations reflect much lower participation. For example, Summit County presently shows a 28 percent rate of participation, Eagle is at 37 percent, Pitkin is at 36 percent and Park is at 38 percent. Grand’s neighboring Jackson is also at 38 percent.
Grand Lake and Winter Park – deemed to have the highest rates of second home ownership in Grand County – carry among the lowest Census return rates in the state so far.
With a 19 percent and 17 percent return rate respectively, Grand Lake and Winter Park residents barely outrank the town of Pitkin, a town twenty-six miles northeast of Gunnison that presently has the lowest Census return rate in the state at 13 percent.
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Cameron said those delivering the Census in some mountain areas have had difficulty getting to unoccupied homes because of snowed-in driveways. And one census taker deemed a home unapproachable because of a “moose that wouldn’t leave.”
Census officials are campaigning heavily to influence greater involvement prior to the April 16 Census Day.
For every one point percentage increase in response rates nationwide, the nation is poised to save $85 million, Cameron said, due to the related savings in labor costs. In May, teams of Census workers will be sent to doorsteps to follow-up on those residents who didn’t fill out a form.
The best way to avoid such a visit is to fill out the 10-question Census form and send it in, Cameron said. Since this year’s Census is designed to be short and to the point, it takes longer to fill out an application for a grocery store reward card, a credit care or product warranties, she said.
Second-home owners should only fill out the form sent to the home where they live at most of the time.
And those who fill out the form should know that personal information is completely confidential and by law is forbidden from being shared. Census workers each take confidentiality oaths, and if they are caught sharing any Census information, they could face fines of up to $250,000 or jail time.
So far, Colorado’s Jefferson County has the highest return rate at 75 percent.
And the town of Bow Mar, with 300 residences in southwest Denver, is a shining example, with 84 percent participation.
Participation in the Census helps communities gets all the funding they need and helps communities understand how they are changing, Cameron said.
As far as Grand County towns besides Winter Park and Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs is leading in Census returns with 59 percent, approaching the 66 percent mark it reached in 2000. Kremmling is nipping at Hot Sulphur’s heels, with a 57 percent return rate. But Kremmling has slightly farther to go to meet its 2000 return rate of 73 percent.
Granby ranks third in returns, with 41 percent participation. It achieved 66 percent participation a decade ago.
And Fraser residents reflect 29 percent Census participation, with 43 percent in 2000.