Census follow-up begins today in Summit County | SummitDaily.com

Census follow-up begins today in Summit County

summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – About 2,600 census takers across Colorado’s Western Slope will begin knocking on doors today to follow up with households that either didn’t mail back their forms or didn’t receive them in the first place. Nationwide, the census follow-up operation will mobilize more than 600,000 workers.

“Public cooperation is the key for us to be successful,” Denver Regional Census Center director Cathy Lacy. ” Our main job is to get everybody counted. We’re finished when we have something for every housing unit.”

Nationwide, more than 72 percent of households have mailed back their census forms. Return rates in resort communities like Summit, Eagle and Pitkin counties lagged far behind the national rate, but officials said the low response can be attributed to the high number of second homes.

“You know they’re not going to have 100 percent response rates,” said Kathleen DuHamel, Grand Junction census office manager.

Census officials emphasized this week that all information collected on census questionnaires is not shared with any other government agency and is kept strictly confidential. Census workers take an oath of privacy during their training, and disclosure of information provided on the forms is punishable by jail time and fines of $250,000.

About 1,500 census workers – all hired from the communities in which they work – took part in training during the past week at 89 sites across Colorado’s Western Slope.

“We are your fellow citizens, as well as your neighbors,” DuHamel said. “Local people will be doing this work – local people who are vested in the final result of this count.”

Census takers will go to great lengths to ensure no one is missed in the census. After exhausting their efforts to complete an in-person interview with a person of an occupied housing unit, they will seek out proxy sources – a neighbor, rental agent or building manager – to obtain as much basic information about the occupants as they can.

Some households will receive a visit even though they may have mailed back their form. If the form arrived too late to be processed before the non-response follow-up packets were sent to local census offices, the household occupants must still be interviewed when the census taker arrives.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.

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