Significant undercounting of Minnesota’s population occurred in the past two federal counts, which are constitutionally required every decade. In 1990 about 20,000 state residents were overlooked; 10 years later more than 14,000 were missed. In both cases people of color and those living in poverty were the most likely to go uncounted.
A four-language Community Census Guide (English, Spanish, Somali, Hmong) can be downloaded from mainstreetproject.org. The guide describes the 2010 Census and addresses the concerns and fears that can get in the way of participation.
Having a correct count is critical given all that rides on its outcome. The Census is used to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds for such things as schools, hospitals and transportation projects and determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Minnesota has had eight congressional districts since 1960, but even an undercount of 1,400 could reduce that by one going forward.
“Minnesota communities lose around $1,200 every year in federal funds for each person who goes uncounted,” said Steven Renderos, media justice organizer with the Main Street Project. “Many of the people in these communities will be unlikely to participate unless organizations and leaders they know and trust address their concerns.”
Between now and Census Day on April 1, Main Street Project also will work with community groups in outstate Minnesota.