Census workers visit Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Census workers visit Steamboat Springs

Bureau uses new technology to prepare for 2010 survey

Jack Weinstein

Workers from the U.S. Census Bureau have descended upon Steamboat Springs in an effort to prepare for next year’s once-a-decade population and demographic survey.

But this year, they’re taking a different approach.

For the first time, 140,000 workers are canvassing neighborhoods across the country, recording more than 145 million addresses using portable GPS devices. Those addresses will be added to a database for the Census’ survey delivery list.

“The more accurate our delivery list, the more completed forms we’ll have sent back in the mail,” said Deborah Cameron, a spokeswoman for the Denver Regional Census Center, which serves 10 states. “If more forms are returned, it will help us make sure everyone is counted.”

Using the GPS devices represents a completely different approach than the paper-and-pen method the Census Bureau used for years. In the past, Cameron said, workers would use existing lists to verify addresses, add to them or amend them.

Jason Peasley, a city planner for Steamboat Springs, said a more accurate survey would benefit the city.

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Steamboat Springs releases its own population estimate each July. Peasley said the city uses building permits to determine the number of household units and estimate the number of people per house and the city’s vacancy rate.

Last year’s estimate indicated 12,130 people lived in Steamboat Springs, a 5.5 percent increase from 2007.

Because the city uses estimates to determine the population, Peasley said, the Census survey was more thorough. He said Steamboat Springs was looking forward to seeing the survey results because they would help with the city’s long-range planning and vision, like the community plan update that will be revisited later this year.

He said the city will apply the 2010 Census survey to its population estimate for those planning purposes.

“A lot of what we do is look at trends,” Peasley said. “It helps us understand demographics of the community, how they’re changing.”

Census workers in Steamboat Springs, many of which are area residents hired to assist with preparations for the 2010 survey, will be clearly identified with a Census ID badge and will carry a tote with the words “Census 2010” written on the side. Any information provided by residents is confidential and protected by law, Cameron said.

She said address compiling began about two weeks ago in Steamboat Springs, and could continue until mid-June.

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