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The census is coming

February 22, 2010

This guest post was written by Ashley Edwards, a local government liaison for the 2010 Census based in Minnesota.

Are you ready for the Census?! The upcoming 2010 Census will have important, and lasting, political implications for residents in Minnesota.  Results from the 2010 Census will inform political representation, government funding, and community planning for the next ten years.  

For the past 50 years, the state of Minnesota has been represented by eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Based on an analysis of new state population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota would just barely miss keeping that eighth Congressional seat when reapportionment occurs following the 2010 Census.  State Demographer Tom Gillaspy projects Missouri would receive the last seat apportioned, with Minnesota just missing by about 1,100 people – a difference of less than one month’s population change for Minnesota.

Losing this U.S. House seat would force state legislators to make drastic changes to Congressional districts.  Not only would this process lead to partisan conflicts and legal challenges, but representatives (regardless of party) will face increased challenges in adequately representing larger districts and responding to constituent requests.  

Data from the 2010 Census is also used in federal funding allocations. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office reported that each of the 10 largest federal assistance programs in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 relied at least in part on the decennial Census and related data.  In total, the federal government distributes approximately $400 billion dollars annually based on the data collected in the Census.  Over a decade, this means our state loses $13,000 per person missed in the 2010 Census.  This funding is used to finance a variety of local programs including infrastructure investments and service programs.

While these political and financial impacts of the Census are quite visible and can be easily quantified, the impact of the Census on data quality and community planning can be more subtle.  The Census is truly a “Snapshot of America” and communities throughout Minnesota will gain the most from Census information when all residents feel comfortable making their presence known.  Everyone counts in the Census, and Minnesotans need to make sure that message is understood and reinforced.

Every household in the state will receive the 10 question Census form in their mailbox in mid-March.  This form should then be returned to the Census Bureau by April 1.

Minnesota-specific information

General census information

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