Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Why fill out the census?
MARCH 15, 2010

The census serves many purposes financially and historically

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Cokato Mayor Bruce Johnson reminded audience members Monday night to fill out their 2010 US Census information. The census forms are expected to be mailed this week. To see a breakdown of census figures over the last two decades, along with estimated 2008 population counts, click here.

Letters were mailed last week by the US Census Bureau telling residents they would be receiving the forms in the mail within about a week.

The letter asked residents to “please fill out the form and mail it in promptly.”

“Your response is important,” the letter also noted, which was signed by Robert Groves, director of the US Census Bureau.

But why is filling out the 2010 Census form so critical?

The population data gathered from the census is used to “reapportion Congress (re-districting),” as stated on the Minnesota Census site (www.mn2010census.org).

The site also states that the “state is teetering on the edge of losing a seat in the US House.”

Based on the census results, approximately $400 billion in federal money is distributed annually to the states.

For each person missed on the 2010 Census, the state could lose $13,000 over a 10-year period.

Minnesota uses this same count to evaluate how much money will be allotted to local governments, as well.

The historical importance

From a genealogy research standpoint, census records are the most valuable resources one can find, according to Cokato Museum Director Mike Worcester.

The US Census has been conducted every 10 years since the first, in 1790, to track population changes.

Though there are only 10 questions on the 2010 Census, questions asked have differed throughout the decades.

“The census tries to capture a snapshot of the makeup of the country at that time,” Worcester said.

In 1930, for example, the census asked if the household owned a radio. In 1910, the census asked if the person being “enumerated” was a veteran of the union or confederate army or navy still in reference to the Civil War.

However, the census consistently offers information on names, dates, places, and “other information that greatly aids people when doing family history research,” Worcester said.

Through the questions answered, people can better understand their ancestors, he added.

Private information from the 2010 census won’t be released until April 1, 2082, however.

Census information is not released for 72 years after it is taken, according to Worcester.

Currently, the Cokato Museum has census information for all of Wright County through 1930.

To see what other types of questions were asked in year’s past, visit www.censusfinder.com.


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