Census Reveals 19.4 Percent Decrease in Door County Families

When the preliminary data from the 2010 Census was published on the Internet one of the items that caught many eyes was the number of housing units reported in Door County. Even though all of us know that the peninsula sees a huge increase in population when the summer residents are here between May and October, I think most of us were surprised to see that we had 23,966 total housing units in the census data.

One factor that we have to keep in mind when we see this number is that the 2010 Census was conducted by going door to door. Both the 1990 Census and the 2000 Census were done by mail with limited in person follow-ups. Thus, the 2010 Census is, in many ways, the more complete picture of both population and housing.

We now have a more complete picture available of the composition of these 23,966 households. According to the data the housing on the peninsula breaks down this way:

• Occupied housing units numbered 12,548 or 52.4 percent of the total housing units

• Vacant housing units numbered 11,418 or 47.8 percent of the total housing units

The vacant housing units are broken down in this manner:

• For rent units numbered 747 or 3.1 percent of the total housing units

• Rented, not occupied, units numbered 44 or 0.2 percent of the total housing units

• For sale only units numbered 378 or 1.8 percent of the total housing units

• Sold, not occupied, units numbered 61 or 0.3 percent of the total housing units

• For seasonal, recreational, or occasional use units numbered 9,554 or 39.9 percent of the total housing units

• All other vacant units numbered 634 or 2.6 percent of the total housing units

So how were these vacant units – particularly the “seasonal, recreational, or occasional use units” which accounted for almost 40 percent of our housing – tabulated?

One of the most significant factors, I believe, is the prevalence of condominium style hotels/resorts. According to two census workers I interviewed, every one of the “owned” units in these facilities was counted individually. Additionally, if the Census worker knocked on one of these doors and it was occupied by anyone other than the owner(s) – even if a member or members of the owner(s) extended family occupied it – it was counted as unoccupied.

And the other factor to keep in mind is that the 2010 Census was conducted, primarily, in March and April, two of the quietest months on the peninsula and well before most of the seasonal residents return in mid-May.

Now let’s take a look at the occupied housing units. As I mentioned above, according to the 2010 Census, Door County had 12,548 occupied housing units at the time the census was conducted. This is an increase of 720 units from the 2000 Census – but, again, the 2000 Census was done by mail with limited in person follow-ups, while the 2010 Census was done by going door-to door.

Interestingly, the average household size in 2000 was 2.33 individuals while the average household size in 2010 was 2.19 individuals – largely the result of more units being reported in 2010 and an overall population decrease in the county from 2000 to 2010 of 176 residents (from a total population in 2000 of 27,961 to a total population of 27,785 in 2010).

You may remember that a few issues ago, I expressed alarm at the decrease in families on the peninsula that the new 2010 data showed. Well here is another reflection of that decrease. In 2000, Door County had 5,899 households with their own children less than 18 years of age. This constituted 21.1 percent of the total housing units.

The 2010 reports that Door County now has 4,754 households with their own children under 18 years of age, or 17.1 percent of the total housing units. Put another way, in the past 10 years, Door County has seen a 19.4 percent decrease in households with their own children under 18 years of age!

I’ll have more to report from the 2010 Census in the future but, for now, I want to close by touching upon one more topic.

Obtain a Free Voter I.D.

I received an email from Peninsula Pulse reader Wayne Kudick reminding us to call attention to the new Voter I.D. law in Wisconsin. This law now requires all voters to show a photo I.D. in order to vote. A driver’s license will work for most of us and a school I.D., as long as it has an issue date affixed, will work for many students. But for those who do not have either of these identifications, a state issued photo I.D. will be required.

Up until now, the fee for a state photo I.D. was $28, but now – since virtually all of us are entitled to vote – the I.D. can be obtained free.

Many of you may have seen the story about a memo that was circulated among Department of Transportation employees (the department that issues the state photo I.D.) urging them not to mention that the I.D. is free and to only offer it free of charge is an individual brings the subject up when they apply.

Whether or not the motivation for this memo was political can be debated. Personally, I believe that the motivation was financial. You see, when our state government passed the Voter I.D. law, they neglected to stipulate how they would fund the issuance of state photo I.D.’s for those that would require them under the new law. So, if the Department of Transportation can get people to pay the $28 fee for the I.D. they can minimize the impact on their budget.

So if you are one of those who will need a state photo I.D. make certain that when you walk up to the window you mention you are there to get your free state issued I.D. It is your constitutional right, and the vast majority of you will qualify.