Less than 20 percent response to Census so far in San Juan County

Just over 18 percent of San Juan County residents have responded to the 2020 Census to date, leading to concern that the every-ten-year effort to count residents has run into a series of serious road blocks.

The response rate varies significantly in the county, with less than one percent of Navajo Nation residents responding. 

By comparison, in the incorporated towns, 55.5 percent of residents have responded in Blanding, 9.3 percent in Monticello, and 6.1 percent in Bluff.

The low response rate to the Census is attributed to a number of factors, led by the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An additional challenge for the Census in San Juan County relates to mail delivery issues. 

Except for Blanding, all mail in the county is delivered to post office boxes and not to physical mailing addresses. 

One of the reasons the response rate in Blanding is higher than everywhere else in the county may be due to this fact. 

Residents were supposed to receive postcards in March with log-in information for the Census, but many residents with post office boxes report they did not receive the card.

Other issues related to the low response rate can include language barriers, cultural barriers, transient populations, and a lack of awareness of the effort.

The Census will be watched carefully in San Juan County for a number of reasons.

By a slim margin, the 2010 Census showed a Native American majority in San Juan County, with 50.4 percent of county residents identifying as Native American. 

This triggered a series of lawsuits and, after a long, expensive and divisive process, resulted in the restructuring of voting districts for the San Juan County Commission.

In the 2018 election, a Native American majority San Juan County Commission was elected. 

The Census Bureau is taking a number of steps to increase the response rate.

They began hand-delivering Census materials on March 15, but because of quarantines and curfews related to the pandemic, they suspended all fieldwork for this operation on March 18.

The Census Bureau will begin dropping off 2020 Census questionnaire packets at front doors of households in Utah this month.

This is done in areas where the majority of households do not receive mail at their physical address. 

The Census Bureau states that staff have been trained to observe all social distancing protocols and will wear official government-provided personal protective equipment for their safety and the safety of the public.

This operation is contactless and follows the most current federal health and safety guidelines.

The health and safety of Census Bureau staff and the public is always a top priority.

The Census Bureau will deliver 2020 Census invitations and paper questionnaires at the front doors of roughly 5.1 million stateside households and 88,600 households in Utah. 

This operation is crucial to ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities, which helps guide hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private sector spending per year.

San Juan County residents are strongly encouraged to respond promptly to the 2020 Census.

If possible, use the ID number included in the questionnaire packet or postcard. 

While responding with a census ID or the paper questionnaire helps ensure the best count of the community, you can respond without the ID number.

People can respond online, by phone, or by using the paper form in the packet.

The Census is an attempt to count everyone every ten years, with a focus on where people were living on April 1.

Residents with access to computers or wireless technology can answer the Census in a matter of minutes by going to https://2020census.gov/.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday