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Jeffco wants residents to stand up, be counted in census

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By Emile Hallez

  Jefferson County is taking steps to ensure all of its 570,000 residents are counted in the upcoming 2010 census.

The county is operating an informational census website and will be setting up a handful of assistance centers throughout the area staffed by U.S. Census workers.

Though Jeffco is working to maximize the number of heads counted, the more immediate goal is to increase the percentage of census documents mailed back to the federal government. An estimated $85 million could be saved by increasing mail participation by 1 percent nationally in the upcoming census. That would significantly decrease the workload of workers who eventually make their ways to neighborhoods, knocking on doors to get accurate counts of residents. The cost of a physical visit by a census worker to conduct an interview is about $80 per residence, said Jeffco citizen involvement coordinator Jennifer Kostka.

The county is working with human services providers, faith-based community leaders, local health departments and others to facilitate the census in Jeffco’s more urban areas, Kostka said.

About $900 in federal funding per year is lost per person not counted in the census. A total of $400 billion per year is directed toward state, local and tribal governments to be used for a variety of projects and services such as education, health care and public works.

The Jeffco census website contains general information about the upcoming count, safety precautions from the sheriff and district attorney, and will soon list locations of the assistance centers, which are not yet operational.

“People need to be educated (about) not to give financial identification information to anybody,” said District Attorney Scott Storey. “Make sure you know who you’re talking to, and don’t let them in your house,” he said about the workers, who will visit residences when forms are not returned through mail. Workers may call ahead to notify residents of upcoming visits, but they will not conduct interviews over the phone, Storey said.

“These census workers are trained. They know what to do and what not to do,” he said. “They’re not going to contact you by e-mail. But a person trying to steal your identity will contact you by e-mail.”

Census workers carry official badges but do not wear uniforms. They are trained to conduct interviews at residents’ doors and are not allowed to enter homes, the sheriff’s office stated. Personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card information or driver’s license numbers should not be divulged to anyone. Census workers will, however, inquire about the number of residents at an address, as well as their names, birth dates and races, the sheriff’s office said.

A national census is conducted every decade. During the 2000 census, 281.4 million people were counted in the U.S., more than a 13 percent increase in population since 1990. Current estimates place the national population at more than 308 million.

Census workers performed address verifications late last year to create a complete list for the upcoming mass mailing.

The census forms will be delivered to residences in the coming weeks. Census workers will make household visits from May through July, and a completed count will be delivered to President Obama in December. The Census Bureau will provide redistricting data to the states in March 2011.

 

Contact Emile Hallez Williams at emile@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22. For updates, check www.ColumbineCourier.com.

  Additional information

For more information about the 2010 census, including safety precautions, locations of Jeffco assistance centers and general instructions, visit http://jeffco.us/2010census.htm.