By Mary Jo Coulehan
Pagosa Springs Area
Chamber of Commerce
Archuleta County has inched up the ranks and has just slightly passed the 40 percent response rate for the 2020 census. This is an increase of about 4 percentage points in the past couple of weeks. However, Archuleta County is behind even the 2010 response rate, which was 42.7 percent. The state response rate is at 67.6 percent.
Currently, the census is scheduled to end Oct. 31. In recent actions, multiple national organizations including the National Association of Regional Councils, National Association of Development Organizations and Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations have partnered regarding the recent announcement to move up the Oct. 31 to Sept. 30.
Southwest Colorado tends to be undercounted and with a shorter time frame the potential of undercounting is significantly higher, leading to less funding allocations from the federal government. It is critical that Archuleta County residents complete the 2020 census either online or respond to the enumerators that are currently out in the field knocking on doors requesting people to complete the census.
Census workers will also be out and about in the next couple of weeks at various locations encouraging and assisting people in completing the census. What can you do as an individual or even as an employer? First off, the easiest way to complete the census is online. Visit www.2020census.gov.
Much of the following information has already been stated, however, here are some reminders on ways to complete the 2020 Census. If you never received an invitation to complete the census in your mail or post box, you can still answer the census. Go to the website. After clicking on the respond link, just enter your physical address instead of the invitation number. That will take you to the census questions. Remember that the census is confidential. By law, the census cannot release information to anyone, including law enforcement agencies on you, your home or your business. In addition, census workers take an oath for life to protect your personal information.
Even if you are a second home owner here in Archuleta County, you can complete the census. You will be completing the number of people living in your household on your primary residence census questionnaire. For your second home, you can answer zero (0) as the number of people living at that residence. Although the community will not receive funding dollars because there are no people associated with the address, it will help with the response rate.
If you are a business, what can you do? You can contact the Archuleta Complete Count Committee and arrange to have an enumerator actually be at your place of business on a particular day and time to assist your employees in responding to the census. This is especially important for those businesses that have a high percentage of Spanish-speaking employees. You can direct people to the library, where staff there can get them on a computer and to the correct website. They cannot assist in the completion of the survey, but the survey is in multiple languages on the website, so getting to the website is important. Public transportation goes to the library, so access is easy and the library staff knowledgeable. Encourage your employees in a staff meeting or through a paycheck stuffer to fill out the census. Put a reminder in your signature line in your email address about completing the census. There are many other tips, but do something.
If you are concerned at all about school lunches, education, roads, children, seniors, mental health, wildlife, fire protection or other services in our rural community, then your response matters. The less responses we have, the less funding we receive. Why would we hamstring our community receiving desperately needed funds?
We should be at least up to the 2010 response rate. We have at least six weeks, perhaps more if they do not shorten the time frame to complete the census. Please, Pagosa, step up and help our county get the funding it so desperately needs. In addition, these figures help shape the demographics that our county relies on for economic development. It’s not too late to complete the 2020 census. Should you have any questions or would like to arrange someone to come to your business, you can contact Mary Jo Coulehan at 264-2360.