Residents urged to finish census

Dreamstime/Tribune News Service

CANTON — The Census Bureau is reporting that St. Lawrence County has lost an estimated 4,000 people since 2010, a number the Complete Count Committee chairman said he believes to be inaccurate, calling for all county residents to complete the census.

In some of the harder-to-reach places, where in-person enumerators were expected to knock on doors and speak to households, that has become even more difficult with the pandemic.

St. Lawrence County Planning Office Planner II John F. Tenbusch said the Census Bureau had decided not to send census mailers and would send in-person enumerators in some of the more sparsely populated communities in the county, specifically in the southeastern and river communities, which he said had the worse response rate.

“There’s an awful lot of second homes, vacation homes, camps, so while the Census Bureau put together an address list, they didn’t have a whole lot of confidence they would be sending somebody to a primary residence or maybe camp,” Mr. Tenbusch said. “If they sent it to a camp it never got responded to, that would be reflected in the statistical cleaning up that they needed to do.

“So they thought they were going to do those areas by enumerators by the whole, human beings, coming up to your door and knocking on it in person, but coronavirus hit and, boom, that’s done,” he said.

As of April 30, St. Lawrence is at a 44.7 percent response rate, compared to New York state’s 48.8 percent.

The county’s largest population centers, Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Massena, Canton and Louisville, have response rates that are higher than the state rate, with Louisville leading the county at 58 percent response rate, 10 points over the state rate.

Between New York state’s rate and St. Lawrence County’s rate there are half a dozen communities in the county that Mr. Tenbusch said are all solidly in the mid-40 percentage rate for responding.

“All of those communities represent 80 percent of the county. Eighty percent of the county has responded higher than the county as a whole,” Mr. Tenbusch said. “So we have had some smaller communities whose response rates are lower and we need to start focusing our out reach on those smaller communities.”

Complete Count Committee Chairman John H. Burke, who is also a member of the county’s Board of Legislators said in a news release that “the stakes are high” in getting everyone to report.

“The Census Bureau estimates that we have lost almost 4,000 people since 2010; we don’t think that is accurate. A complete count will settle the matter,” Mr. Burke said. “Going into 2010, we faced a similar situation: the Census Bureau estimated that we had lost over 3,000 residents since 2000. By making every effort for a complete count, we were able to arrive at a final number that was slightly higher than the 2000 population figure — we didn’t lose 3,000 residents.”

New York state estimated in 2010 that every person who did not get counted would cost his/her community over $2,000 per year in funding from federal and state programs.

“By finding those 3,000 people, we believe that we helped bring in more than $60 million in additional funding for programs that are needed in our county,” Mr. Burke said.

You can fill out the census online at, by phone by calling (844) 330-2020 or you can fill out a paper copy. If you received an invitation form but have not yet filled out a form, then you will receive a paper census form sometime in late April.

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