County Scrambling As Census Count Is Cut Short

The deadline for residents to fill out their 2020 Census form has been shortened a month to Sept. 30, Assistant County Administrator Patrick Rutter told the Palm Beach County Commission on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

“We have been working very hard for about two years on this, and we’re coming into the absolute home stretch. Last week, the Census Bureau made a modification,” Rutter said. “The end date for residents to fill out their 2020 Census was previously Oct. 31. That has now been changed to Sept. 30.”

That means the “boots on the ground” portion of enumerators going out and knocking on doors of non-respondents will only be available for seven weeks as opposed to having the additional four weeks.

“We are in the final hour right now, and I can’t emphasize it strongly enough what needs to be done in these next seven weeks for responses,” Rutter said.

The county at this point has counted 60.8 percent of residents, while the state is at 60.1 percent, trailing the nation at 63.2 percent.

“Dialing in locally, 25 of our cities are at or below 60 percent in the self-response rate, so that’s a critical issue that we all really need to up our game and get moving,” Rutter said, adding that county statisticians have a lot of census information to share that includes ZIP codes and census tracts.

“We’re going to be working with all of our cities, and have all this really detailed information,” he said. “We’ll work with the League of Cities as well to get them that information in the jurisdictions where the numbers are running the lowest, where they can do additional targeting.”

He added that the county’s web site also has abundant census information.

“We will continue to message this at every opportunity possible, and we can only encourage our cities to message this as well,” Rutter said. “There’s no more waiting. It’s not a day off in the distance. We are here now, and we need to get it accomplished.”

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth asked whether enumerators are knocking on doors of people who have not yet responded, and Rutter said they began work that morning.

“Do we have any ability to assist in that endeavor?” Weinroth asked. “We realize that we are behind the nation. That means our allocation of funding and of representatives is going to be impacted to our detriment, so is there anything we can do as a county to assist the enumerators to get higher representation?”

Rutter said he would see what the county could do to help.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said that President Donald Trump had issued two executive orders related to the census, one moving up the reporting date and the other the way respondents are counted, possibly excluding residents who are not citizens.

“How exactly does the citizenship portion of President Trump’s executive order impact us?” she asked.

Rutter said he did not know exactly how it would affect the count, but he would get back to the board with an answer.

County Administrator Verdenia Baker said that every person counted equates to about $1,600 annually.

“There’s 1.5 million people estimated in Palm Beach County, which equates to $2.4 billion,” Baker said. “Over the next 10 years, this would add up to roughly $24 billion.”

If you haven’t already filled out the census form, visit