Garfield County in state’s top 20 for U.S. Census participation |

Garfield County in state’s top 20 for U.S. Census participation

Final counts to be released this spring

The final numbers won’t be revealed for a couple more months yet, but Garfield County has put the wrap on what was considered a successful 2020 U.S. Census count as part of the valleywide “Complete Count” effort.

Even with the difficulties gathering the count given the challenges of a global pandemic, Garfield County actually had better participation in the 2020 census than it did 10 years ago, said Sheryl Bower, community development director for the county.

The combination of a robust outreach campaign across the tri-county area and door-to-door contacts, Garfield County had a 99% contact/response rate, she said.

Though the final report is still pending, Bower said it appears Garfield County’s total population stands at right around 60,000, which is roughly what the state demographer’s office has estimated in recent years. The county’s official 2010 Census population count was 56,389.

Garfield County was part of the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee, which involved three counties, nine municipalities and numerous community organizations.

“The primary goal was to make sure we counted the historically undercounted populations,” Bower said during a Jan. 18 report to the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners.

Among the typically undercounted sectors are the Latino community, young children, seniors, people who use only Post Office boxes to receive their mail, and transient seasonal workers, she said.

When all was said and done, the county’s self-response rate of 66.8% was greater than it was during the 2010 Census, when Garfield County had a self-response rate of 60.1%, Bower reported.

That ranked Garfield County 18th among Colorado counties, and fourth among Western Slope counties. Only Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties in western Colorado exceeded Garfield County’s self-response rate.

Nationally, the self-response rate in 2020 was 67%, up from 66.5% in 2010, and in Colorado the self-response rate was 70%, also up from 67.2% in 2010, according to Bower’s report.

Garfield County’s self-response rate was also much better than neighboring Pitkin and Eagle counties, which typically have a harder time gathering a full census count because of the seasonal nature of their resort-based economies. That became even more difficult in 2020 when ski areas shut down in March due to the pandemic, just as the census effort was ramping up.

Pitkin County ended up having a self-response rate of 39.7%, while Eagle County’s was 39.6%. Both of those rates were roughly the same as in 2010, according to Bower’s report.

Combined with the work enumerators did in going door-to-door, Garfield County ended up with a 99% total response rate, Bower said.

The local Complete Count committee operated on a $150,000 budget, which included $10,000 from Garfield County, $15,000 from the city of Glenwood Springs and $37,000 each from Aspen and Pitkin County.

Most of the expenses went toward an extensive media campaign to encourage residents in the area to participate in the census. The census establishes official population counts for municipalities, counties and states that help in determining federal funding allocations.

That effort included 1,700 radio spots, 164 print ads, 122 social media posts, 21,400 utility bill inserts, 10,000 home visits and 23 in-person events, Bower said.

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