BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN It happens every 10 years: the US Census.
In 2020, the US Census Bureau is working to get as accurate of a count as possible for every community throughout the country.
“This year, they’re really, really active in getting people to participate, to make sure everyone answers,” said Paula Bauman, administrative services coordinator for the City of Delano.
With that goal in mind, the Census Bureau has asked cities to confirm certain information.
“I needed to go through all the addresses in the city and make sure everything was in there,” Bauman said. “There was a big process all of last year, 2019, to organize all the files and get everything up to date.”
Cities were also asked to create Complete Count Committees.
In Delano’s case, members of the Spirit of Community Commission are serving as the Complete Count Committee.
“They wanted people from throughout town, not just city employees,” Bauman said. “They wanted the schools to be involved; they wanted the chamber and the faith community. They’re responsible to help promote it, to get the information out there. They do what they see fit.”
One thing the Delano Complete Count Committee decided to do was to send out postcards that will be in mailboxes soon.
They were funded by a $750 grant from the Minneapolis Foundation and include a number of facts about the census and why it is important.
The census forms themselves will be mailed to every household starting in March. Every household will have the option to respond online, by mail, or phone. Enumerators hired by the US Census Bureau will visit households that do not respond up to three times.
Every household will be asked to count everyone who lives in the home as of April 1.
Why is the census important?
Responses affect where more than $675 billion in funds are distributed each year to communities nationwide for clinics, schools, roads, and more.
Census data gives community leaders vital information to make decisions about their communities.
Responses are also used to redraw legislative districts and determine the number of seats each state has in the US House of Representatives. At the local level, census results can cause county commission districts to be redrawn, though Wright County officials are not expecting that to be the case.
Molly Fleming, a League of Minnesota Cities fellow and intern with the City of Delano, said some officials throughout the state believe there was an undercount in 2010. For example, Circle Pines officials believe their city was undercounted by at least 82 people, which was the difference between receiving additional funding for streets.
“The ramifications last 10 years, which is a very long time to wait if you think a mistake has been made,” Fleming said.
She encourages people to participate. For those visited by enumerators, she has some advice.
“If someone comes to your door, the important thing, especially for people who are concerned about scams, to remember, is you are legally always allowed to ask for an enumerator’s identification,” Fleming said. “They would never ask for something like a social security number. The big information they want to know is how many people live there, ages, and racial demographics.
“It’s just supposed to be a snapshot of your home at that particular time,” she continued. “They don’t even do long form censuses anymore. They don’t care about your profession or how much money you make. They just want to know who lives here.”
Census data is also confidential.
For those looking to earn money by collecting that data, visit https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html
In Wright County, census takers will be paid $22 per hour and reimbursed for work-related mileage and expenses, where applicable.