It was the second letter that prompted me to sit down and respond.
I received the first 2020 U.S. Census letter in the mail in early March. I knew the census was underway and I was going to respond online soon. Then a week later, I received a second letter, same as the first. Okay, I didn’t need or want further reminders. So, I sat down at my desk and laptop, and answered the questionnaire.
Easy-peasy. Took me less than 10 minutes.
I hope you’ve completed your census and if not, I encourage you to do so now. Everyone living in the U.S. and its five territories is required by law to be counted in the census.
Minnesotans have more at stake with this time around. It’s been projected that the state could lose a congressional seat because our population is growing slower than other states. A recent estimate noted that Minnesota is possibly 22,000 people short of retaining its eighth congressional seat. That 22,000 people is less than .5% of the population of Minnesota, so it's critical that everyone makes the effort to be counted.
With the census conducted once every 10 years, the data gathered could prompt change that will impact all of us. Census results dictate the level of federal funding each state and community receives. That includes funding for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives, and other critical programs and services.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 55 federal programs use census data to distribute federal funds. In 2016 alone, Minnesota received more than $15 billion in federal funds through these programs. These funds included more than $6 billion for 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, it is projected that Minnesota will lose about $2,800 in federal funding per year.
Data safe in right channels
Some folks might be concerned about privacy issues when it comes to providing census information. Under federal law, the Census Bureau is required to keep data confidential for 72 years and only use data for statistical purposes. Some have also been concerned about possible questions pertaining to immigration or citizenship. There was talk last year about including a question about citizenship status. However, that idea didn’t fly, and there is no such question.
When you fill out the census, you will be asked basic questions about your household, specifically who is or who will be living with you on April 1. You’ll also be asked about home ownership or renting and your contact information.
You decide if you want to fill out the census online or by mail or phone. Those who have not responded by the first week in April will receive a paper questionnaire in mid-April.
Unfortunately, there are some creeps out there who are taking advantage of the situation and posing as census takers. The Census Bureau reminds us that its employees will never ask you for:
- your Social Security number
- money or donations
- anything on behalf of a political party
- your bank or credit card account numbers
If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks you for one of these things, it's a scam and you should not cooperate, according to bureau officials.
Census workers are not immune as government agencies and businesses temporarily close or post reduced hours due to COVID-19. Census field operations have been suspended through April 1. However, that doesn’t excuse citizens from not responding. If anything, it should call forth individual responsibility to take the initiative to complete this small yet significant task.
As of March 22, around 25% of Minnesota’s citizenry completed the census. If you already have, thank you for doing so. If you haven’t yet, please fill it out now.
For more information, visit 2020census.gov.