At a press conference Monday morning, community members and local leaders from Minneapolis, Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota discussed their concerns about making sure everyone is counted by the September 30 Census deadline.
The U.S. Census bureau reports that 85.8% of households in Minnesota have completed the census. 73.7% have completed it on their own -- online, over the phone or by mail. But only 12.1% of households have completed it because a census taker come to their door. This rate is very low compared to other states where it is as high as 33%.
“I am very worried about the low non-response follow up rate by the Census Bureau,” said Commissioner Irene Fernando who is Chair of the Hennepin County Complete Count Committee and represents District 2. “Even missing just 10% of households in Hennepin County would deeply impact our community. We would be missing more than 50,000 households and over 120,000 people.”
Historically, there are several communities at risk for being undercounted in the Census. That risk is compounded this year by unprecedented factors including a global pandemic and an announcement that the extended count period would be shortened by a full month.
“When the coronavirus hit earlier this year, in-person visits to households had to be delayed for months,” State Demographer Susan Brower explained. “Initially the Census Bureau had asked Congress for an extension, which would have allowed them to keep counting through October. But in early August, the Department of Commerce abandoned the request to push back its reporting deadlines. The 2020 Census field operations will now only run through September, forcing the Census Bureau to rush through the remaining counting and requiring them to cut back on vital quality check activities.”
“We know Minneapolis is facing a budget shortfall because of COVID-19 so it is imperative we get an accurate Census count,” said Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins. “We are in great need of federal support so that we can help businesses that have closed and workers who been laid off. We also need help rebuilding our city, which has experienced so much civil unrest in the past few months.”
XP Lee from the Minnesota Council on Foundations/Minnesota Census Mobilization Project talked about indicators that the Census Bureau’s field operations in Hennepin County appear to be already ending, after just a few weeks. “It is on us to make sure we achieve a fully inclusive count. It is on us to continue to mobilize over the next month. We have just 30 days left to PUSH folks in our historically undercounted communities to self-respond to the census before the September 30 deadline. We cannot count on the Census Bureau. It is on us.”
Lee said there are community members who report they have not had a single visit from a census taker even though these individuals haven’t completed their census. Further, Census workers have said they are frustrated with bad data they are receiving for apartment buildings, which makes it impossible to know if households have or have not completed the census.
Every year, Minnesota receives $15.5 billion from the federal government. An undercount would reduce the funding our state receives. And, it could result in the loss of a congressional seat.
Fernando urged everyone to make the final 30 days count so that everyone is counted.
There are a number of indicators that U.S. Census Bureau’s field operation in Hennepin County may be ending after just a few weeks. It was supposed to occur through September 30. Hennepin County is the largest county in Minnesota and home to a third of the state’s BIPOC communities. An undercount in Minnesota state could result in the loss of a congressional seat. Billions of federal dollars that would benefit our community are also on the line.
How to complete the Census
Text questions to 662020