The United States census is personal to all Minnesotans.
Every 10 years on April 1, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every single person living in the country.
Census data has an impact on our communities, where we vote, our health, our education and our finances. Getting the most accurate count as possible has been the consistent goal since the first U.S. census was taken in 1790.
This is because an inaccurate count can have devastating results to the state-by-state allocation of federal funds and the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts.
With more than $675 billion in annual federal funding and redistricting that could tip the country’s Democrat or Republican scales at issue, the stakes are high for the upcoming 2020 census. And the consequences are immense for Minnesotans.
Getting the numbers right, being certain everyone is counted, is important in maintaining the state’s $15.5 billion in annual federal funding. This money provides vital support to schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other programs that make Minnesota a great place to live and work.
Almost $20,000 in federal funds to Minnesota will be lost over the next decade for every person not counted, according to a George Washington University study.
Also, an accurate count in 2020 is essential to maintaining Minnesota’s congressional representation. The state’s congressional delegation is hanging by a population thread. A slight reduction in population means Minnesota’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. could be reduced from eight to seven. Our Electoral College votes would drop from 10 to 9.
Let’s make this even more personal. An accurate census count is only possible with the help of thousands of paid workers and volunteers. An accurate count is dependent on each one of us.
For anyone who has ever considered becoming a government worker, now is the time. The U.S. Census Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is currently hiring thousands of workers to be the hands and feet of the 2020 count.
Paid positions include census takers, field supervisors, recruiting assistants, clerks and office operations supervisors. Job applications are available online at 2020census.gov.
Job offers will be made in January and February 2020. Paid training begins in March 2020 with most work beginning in May 2020. Hourly pay ranges from $14 to $27 in Minnesota.
Volunteer efforts aimed at getting complete participation in the census are being led by thousands of Complete Count Committees operating in all parts of the country. In Minnesota, almost 80 such committees are preparing to promote the census and mobilize response.
Historically undercounted populations — young children, renters, people of color, American Indians and immigrants — are the primary subjects of these “get out the count” volunteer groups. Many count committees represent these communities, with the idea that they can better design a plan that will meet their unique needs.
Getting involved in the census volunteer efforts in Minnesota is easy. An office of Census Operations and Engagement was established with support from the legislature. Contact can be made through the State Demographic Center website: mn.gov/demography.
Whether through employment or volunteering, human touch is the key to an accurate census count, says Andrew Virden, director of census operations in Minnesota. “People respond in greater numbers when someone they can relate to encourages them to respond,” he recently told the Editorial Board.
Every way you look at it, the 2020 census is personal. Ensuring a full, accurate count of Minnesotans will benefit all of us for many years to come.
— An opinion of the Adams Publishing – ECM Editorial Board. Reactions welcome. Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.