The clock is ticking on the 2020 U.S. Census.
Sept. 30 is the last day the Census Bureau will end all counting efforts. That’s a month earlier that previously announced. The deadline had been extended to October due to COVID-19, but then shortened up. No official reason was given for the change other than speculation that it was done for political reasons.
Nonetheless, if you haven’t yet filled out your census form yet, please do that immediately. It is very important that everyone fills it out, especially all residents of Minnesota. At stake is a congressional seat in the House of Representatives as well as federal funding for the next 10 years.
The pandemic has amplified the need in each state for federal dollars. Minnesota must continue to receive fair federal funding for state and local governments, schools, roads and other community infrastructure. Accurate population numbers are also needed for business and economic development decisions and investments by nonprofits and foundations.
Minnesotans have shown initiative in responding to the census. As of Aug. 10, Minnesota ranked first among states in total self-responses, meaning that residents have made it a priority to complete their census survey, either online, by mail or by phone. Top states in total self-responses were Minnesota at 72.6%; Wisconsin at 69.8%; Washington at, 69.2%; Nebraska at 69.1%; and Michigan and Iowa both at 69%.
In Minnesota, the top self-responding counties and their national rankings are Carver, 4th, 82.2%; Washington, 6th, 81.6%; Anoka, 8th, 81.5%; Scott, 11th, 81%; and Dakota, 16th, 80.3%.
Yet, we know we can do better, especially outstate and in rural areas. We still have nearly 30% of the population not yet counted. You can view a map of Minnesota online to show response rates by county.
The light blue, yellow and orange areas on the map indicate low census participation. Cook County in the northeast tip of the state had the lowest response at 29.5% as of Aug. 10. Other areas where responses were low — and these are in farming areas — were Traverse, Ottertail and Becker counties. Their self-response rates were at 55.1%, 54.4% and 52.3%, respectively.
Let’s push the state into the high 90th percentile with census responses. Encourage family, friends and neighbors to fill out the census if they have not done so yet. They can respond online at my2020census.gov.
If you have questions about the extension time cut off by a month, contact your representative and share your concerns. Maybe the deadline could be turned back to October so efforts can be made to get the best count possible.
The next decade depends on what we do now.