Minnesotans are doing better-than-average job of responding to the 2020 U.S. Census, but there’s more work to do.
According to census data released this week, Minnesota and Wisconsin — with just over 46% responding so far — were tied for the highest state share of households completing the forms. Overachievers that we tend to be, this state also had the highest mail-in response rate in the nation (74%) for the 2010 census.
But we need to surpass that high mark this time around even as we wash our hands, stay at home and maintain social distance in the fight to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The stakes are high in 2020. Data collected in the census will be relevant for a decade and affect funding for hospitals, health clinics, Medicaid and other programs and organizations that are in the depths of handling the onslaught of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
More than $675 billion in federal funds is expected to be allocated to more than 100 programs including education, SNAP benefits, roads, school lunches and water and waste disposal systems for rural communities and financial aid for college students.
Minnesotans should be especially concerned about population density changes because they determine the state’s number of seats in Congress. State officials are concerned about forecasts that show Minnesota could lose a seat because its population growth hasn’t kept pace with states such as Florida and Texas. Making sure everyone is counted gives the state a chance to maintain the current level of representation.
This year, it’s especially critical to get as many responses as possible from the online, phone and mail-in responses. Due to the virus pandemic, census staff have had to cancel rallies, door knocking and other in-person activities.
There are several ways to respond to the questionnaire. The easiest is the website my2020census.gov. Letters mailed to homes include a unique ID code to enter on the website. The survey may also be completed by phone at (844) 330-2020. Residents who don’t respond online or by phone will be receiving a paper questionnaire in the next few weeks that can be filled out and returned by mail.
In addition to completing your own household survey, encourage friends, family and acquaintances to do the same. Everyone has an important interest in getting the census figures right. So step up and be counted.