by Myrna Doran
The Twenty-Second Annual Convention of the AFL-CIO Retiree Council heard a presentation about the 2020 Census from Andrew Virden, Director of Census Operations and Engagement at the Minnesota Department of Administration. Mr. Virden explained the importance, the mechanics and the challenges faced by the 2020 Census to the delegates assembled on September 20 at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall.
Mr.Virden assured us that answering the census form is safe and confidential. We need to relate that information to everyone we can. It is critical for the government to have this information to make solid decisions. This information cannot be released to the public or organizations for 72 years.
Background information on the census:
- The first census was taken in 1790.
- A census is performed every 10 years.
- The goal of the census is to count every person once and to locate them in the right place.
- The upcoming Census date is April 1, 2020
- Funding for this census was not secured until March 2018.
- A census form will be mailed to every address the federal government has listed and this list is verified by the state.
- Workers are needed to assist with the census process.
- The census form will consist of 10 basic questions.
- Some representatives are attempting to place an 11th question on the form asking about citizenship. Minnesota is one of the 16 states suing to not include this question in the census form.
This census has been challenged by the late funding that resulted in elimination or reduction of critical planning and testing, by the emphasis on on-line gathering of data and by the possible inclusion of a question on citizenship. These issues have raised concerns for people about technology mechanics and confidentiality and the citizenship question, if included, will threaten participation from immigrants.
Mr. Virden explained very important information about how critical it is to have a complete count of every person living in Minnesota. The state and federal governments need good data so the needed services can be provided. Money comes to the state based on the census data. The amount coming to the state is at least $1,532 per person. Some of the programs utilizing this money are Medicare B., Medicaid, and SNAP. The number of congressional districts is established based on the total population of states and the district boundaries are drawn based on geographic distribution of people within the state. A Congressperson is elected to represent each congressional district. Minnesota may lose a representative if our population decreases in this census.
How can you help? Fill out the census form which will be available in print format, online, and can be completed by phone. Encourage others to fill out the form. Snow birds should know to complete the form in Minnesota not other states so the money will come to Minnesota. Workers are needed on a volunteer and paid basis. If you need further information or are willing to assist please contact the State Demographers Office at 1-855-562-2020 or at this link https://mn.gov/admin/demography/census2020/.