The 2020 census effort is in its last days, albeit with an unpredictable end date, which means Southwest Coloradans have limited time to complete their census forms.
The census, a constitutionally mandated population count every decade, was originally supposed to finish at the end of October before the Trump administration changed the end date to Sept. 30. But last week, a federal court in California ruled the count would end Oct. 31, according to news reports.
“We cannot specifically comment on this (the deadline), because it is in litigation and is being handled by our team at headquarters in D.C.,” said Bianca Gámez, a U.S. Census Bureau spokesperson.
As of Monday, the bureau planned to wrap up the 2020 count Oct. 5. The extra few days gives Coloradans a surprise extension for completing their census.
Census statistics inform how billions of dollars in federal money will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers annually for the next 10 years. They are also used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the Census Bureau.
In Colorado as of Monday, 98% of households had completed the 10-minute form, ranking the state 38th out of 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. That 2% gap equals about 115,000 people when based on the 2019 population estimates.
The final tally is not clear for Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties, or their municipalities.
While some households self-respond by phone, mail or online forms, others are unresponsive. Census collection teams, called enumerators, follow up with those households in person to ask for a response.
As of Monday, Southwest Colorado self-response rates ranged between 27.7% in San Juan and 63.2% in Montezuma counties. The Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian tribes have 50.1% and 40.5% self-response rates, respectively. About 66.2% of Durangoans have self-responded.
It is not clear how many of the remaining households have been contacted by enumerators. That county and municipality-level data is not available, Gámez said.
It is available at the state level: 69.6% of Colorado residents self-responded while 28.5% responded after being contacted by enumerators.
The Colorado Springs Area Census Office, which follows up with unresponsive households for more than 30 southern Colorado counties, was 87.5% finished with its follow-ups as of Monday.
Households that still need to respond to the census can do so online at 2020census.gov, by mail using a paper questionnaire or by phone at (844) 330-2020 (available in English and 12 other languages).