Orleans is lagging with Census response rate

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 May 2020 at 10:32 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The sign in front of the Hoag Library in Albion on Monday evening notes the Orleans County response rate to the Census. The 48.4 percent rate is among the lowest in Western New York.

Orleans County has one of the lowest response rates to the 2020 Census in Western New York.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports Orleans County response rate is 48.8 percent as of May 17. That is below the state average of 54.3 percent and the national average of 59.6 percent.

In 2010, Orleans had a 66.8 percent response to the Census, which is required to be filled out by law every 10 years.

The county’s response rate is lagging particularly at the lakeshore towns of Yates and Carlton, where there are many seasonal residents. In Yates the response rate is only 33.5 percent and in Carlton it’s 38.5 percent. Residents were urged to fill out the form, which only take s a few minutes online, by April 1.

“The lakeshore remains more problematic,” said Jim Bensley, director of Planning and Development in Orleans County. “And the villages it’s also low. The villages tend to have more renters who can be hard to enumerate.”

Orleans County’s southern towns of Clarendon (62.3 percent), Barre (60.2 percent) and Shelby (57.9 percent) have the highest participation rates with the Census in the county.

Here are the response rates for the 10 towns and four villages in Orleans County:


  • Albion: 45.9 percent
  • Barre: 60.2 percent
  • Carlton: 38.5 percent
  • Clarendon: 62.3 percent
  • Gaines: 49.3 percent
  • Kendall: 43.8 percent
  • Murray: 50.6 percent
  • Ridgeway: 50.7 percent
  • Shelby: 57.9 percent
  • Yates: 33.5 percent


  • Albion: 43.5 percent
  • Holley: 51.7 percent
  • Lyndonville: 52.4 percent
  • Medina: 50.2 percent

Orleans is doing better than some counties in Western New York. Allegany County is at 41.4 percent and Cattaraugus is at 47.1 percent. But Orleans is at least 10 percent behind the rates of its neighbors: Niagara, Genesee and Monroe counties.

Western New York counties

  • Allegany, 41.4 percent
  • Cattaraugus, 47.1 percent
  • Chautauqua, 52.7 percent
  • Erie, 64.9 percent
  • Genesee: 59.6 percent
  • Livingston: 57.8 percent
  • Monroe: 62.3 percent
  • Niagara, 65.5 percent
  • Wyoming: 52.5 percent

Orleans County isn’t alone with a response rate below 50 percent. New York City is at a 49.1 percent response rate. Hamilton County in the Adirondacks is by far the lowest at 6.7 percent. Some other rural counties in upstate also have low response rates:

  • Sullivan, 26.9 percent
  • Delaware, 31.7 percent
  • Lewis, 33.8 percent
  • Jefferson, 40.1 percent
  • Yates, 45.3 percent
  • Otsego, 45.9 percent
  • Herkimer, 47.9 percent
  • Chenango, 49.0 percent
  • Schuyler, 49.3 percent
  • St. Lawrence, 49.8 percent

Orleans County is partnering with the four public libraries in the county to promote filling out the Census. The libraries have public access computers with staff willing to offer assistance with the questionnaire. But the library buildings and computers have all been off-limits to the public since mid-March.

Bensley said the Census will have people going door-to-door to have people complete the Census, but that might not be until the fall.

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