The U.S. Census Bureau will be hiring 29 supervisors and 270 census takers in Hubbard County.
Hubbard County Coordinator Eric Nerness informed county commissioners of 2020 Census plans at their May 7 meeting.
As required by the U.S. Constitution, a census has been taken every 10 years since Thomas Jefferson directed the first one in 1790. The U.S. census counts each resident of the country, where they live on April 1.
"One of the requests that the Census Bureau is making is that we, as a county, establish what's called a 'complete count committee,' involving various stakeholders around the county," Nerness said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a complete count committee is a group of volunteers who serve as "census ambassadors" and "play an integral part in ensuring a complete and accurate count of the community." The committee is established by tribal, state and local governments and community leaders to increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 Census.
Nerness reported that, in Beltrami County, a county and a city representative have formed a joint committee. "We might want to consider forming a joint committee with the City of Park Rapids," he suggested.
County commissioner Char Christenson suggested working with the League of Women Voters of the Park Rapids Area as well.
County commissioner Tom Krueger said the committee will need a wide variety of community members represented.
Nerness explained that the U.S. Census Bureau will first seek online survey responses, "which they call 'first pass.' Then they'll send a written census form and if you don't respond to either of those, then the door-knockers come out."
The U.S. Census Bureau hopes to cut down on in-person, follow-up visits to non-responding households. Krueger noted that costs increase significantly if census takers must go door to door, so it's crucial to get the word out to county residents.
According to Nerness, the statewide average of 'first pass' completion was 81 percent, while Hubbard County's was 52 percent. "Interestingly, the northern section of the county had a very high participation percentage," he said, adding, "I know we have parts of the county that aren't terribly internet or broadband friendly."
The population totals from the census determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives. States also use the totals to redraw their legislative and school districts.
The U.S. Census Bureau must submit the data to the President by Dec. 31, 2020.
The county board plans to discuss the matter further at future meetings.