Every Person Counts!
Every ten years, the United States undergoes a census to count all residents of the country. This census is required by the United States Constitution and is a crucial part of how our country works politically and economically. Every person should take part!
An accurate census is critical to ensure effective representation of Minnesotans in the government. A complete census also ensures Minnesotans get their fair share of federal funds. In addition, it provides accurate population data to public and business planners for long-term planning. The 2020 census is the first that will include an online response option. Census Day is April 1, 2020, though census staff will continue to obtain and verify survey responses through September 2020.
In preparation for the census, it is also important for local governments to do their part and for the state government to allocate adequate funding to ensure a complete and accurate count. The results of the U.S. census will affect the future of Minnesota and our local communities.
The Census is used for:
Census data determines how many representatives each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. Minnesota is in danger of losing a seat because our population has grown at a slower pace than other states. An accurate count ensures Minnesota has the best chance to keep all eight of its Representatives. Census data also determines how many votes Minnesota gets in the Electoral College, which selects the President.
The census also helps us draw congressional and state legislative district boundaries. A complete and accurate census is crucial to support redistricting of the state in a way that assures representative democracy.
At least 55 federal programs use census data to distribute federal funds. One study published in May 2019 estimates that Minnesota received over $15 billion in federal funds in 2016 alone through these programs. These funds included over $6 billion for Medical Assistance (Medicaid), $3 billion for Federal Direct Student Loans, $650 million for highway planning and construction, and $475 million for low-to-moderate income housing loans. For each person not counted in the 2020 census, Minnesota will lose about $2,800 in federal funding per year. See charts below.
Planning for government and business
State and local governments, as well as businesses of all sizes, use census information to plan future activities. A complete and accurate count allows the state of Minnesota and local governments to make informed planning and policy decisions for housing, transit, health services, business development, and more. This also allows businesses to make the best decisions on future business planning and strategies to serve the needs of residents.
2016 Federal Funding for Minnesota – Statewide
2016 Federal Funding for Minnesota – Rural Areas Only
There is a long history of challenges in obtaining a complete count during the census. An undercount negatively affects Minnesota’s political representation, federal funding, and planning abilities. Some potential causes of undercounting include:
Language Barriers. Many people in Minnesota may experience language barriers when trying to learn about or respond to the census if their primary language is not one of the 59 supported by the census.
Highly Mobile Residents. Responding accurately to the census can be difficult for those without a stable or permanent residence due to relocation, temporary work assignments, college or university attendance, or homelessness.
Distrust of Government. Some people will be reluctant to speak to anyone representing the government or to share information with the government due to distrust. This can include fears about retribution against immigrants. As of July 2019, the census survey will not have a question regarding citizenship status. However, the public discussion on the question and ongoing pressures on immigration will likely make many non-citizens and immigrants reluctant to participate. This includes non-citizens who legally reside in Minnesota, like refugees and green card holders, as well as immigrants who are U.S. citizens through naturalization.
Technology Barriers. This year’s census will be the first conducted primarily online. This will present challenges to individuals without internet access or who are not technologically adept.
Who Are Our Historically Undercounted Communities?
Historically undercounted communities are groups of people with a common trait that the census has not accurately counted in the past. In other states, these communities are sometimes called “hard to count” communities. In Minnesota, however, we refer to these communities as “historically undercounted communities.” These communities include:
Young children (ages 0-4)
Highly mobile persons
Young adults (ages 18-24, especially those in college)
Racial and ethnic minorities
Low income persons
Persons experiencing homelessness
Persons who distrust the government
Persons with mental or physical disabilities
Persons who do not live in traditional housing
Persons born outside the United States, including green card holders and undocumented immigrants
Individuals without internet access
This interactive map shows the geographic locations of undercounts in Minnesota during the 2000 and 2010 census.
Take Action / Printables
2020 Census Action Kit
Want to take action? Check out our Census 2020 Action Kit with tangible steps that anyone can use to start immediately.
2020 Census Flyer
Download and print our two-sided, 8.5 x 11 flyer to use as a handout for your next event. It offers the same content as this page.
2020 Census Postcard
Download and print this two-sided, 8.5 x 11 sheet (four postcards per sheet) to use as handouts for your next event.
We Count MN via Minnesota State Demographic Center
Counting for Dollars 2020 – The role of the decennial census in the geographic distribution of federal funds to Minnesota
Census 2020: Helping ensure rural Minnesota participation is robust and complete - Information on rural importance and impact of the Census provided by the Blandin Foundation.
ReadyNation via Council for a Strong America