The U.S. 2020 Census winds down on Sept. 30.
Rural residents of Hubbard County aren’t responding, and county officials anticipate it will have an impact.
“The enumerators are already out, but there’s still an opportunity to self-respond,” said Hubbard County commissioner Tom Krueger at the Sept. 15 county board meeting. “It’s important.”
Krueger highlighted a few of the 50 ways an accurate census count affects the community, such as redrawing federal, state and local districts; distributing over $675 billion in annual federal funds, with $16 billion going to Minnesota; forecasting future transportation needs of the population; planning for locations of nursing homes, hospitals, clinics and other health services; forecasting future housing needs, and funding for people in poverty.
The 2020 Census will also determine congressional representation and provide data that will impact communities for the next decade.
“It’s pretty important for everybody to be counted,” Krueger reiterated. “While redistricting, I hope we don’t lose one of our congressional districts. It’s a possibility.”
Overall, Minnesota has 74.6 percent response rate, as of Sept. 21, compared to the 66 percent nationwide. Hubbard County’s response rate is still lagging at 48.7 percent. The City of Park Rapids, on the other hand, has a 71.1 percent response rate.
“Why the difference between county and city?” asked county commissioner Dan Stacey.
“That’s because people in the rural area are not responding,” explained Krueger.
Stacey said he filled out the 2020 Census, which only has 10 questions. He also received a 49-page American Community Survey (ACS), which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every month and every year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ACS is sent to a sample of addresses (about 3.5 million) in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It asks about topics not on the 2020 Census, such as education, employment, internet access and transportation. “It also provides local and national leaders with the information they need for programs, economic development, emergency management, and understanding local issues and conditions,” states the website (census.gov).
County commissioner Ted Van Kempen noted that the northern portion of the county has responded well, but the numbers were down in the central and southeastern part.
Krueger said there are people that won’t be counted by Sept. 30 “and it’s going to affect Hubbard County.”
Households can still respond by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire they received in April, by responding online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020.
Complete count committee report
After the meeting, Florence Hedeen, coordinator of the Hubbard County Complete Count Committee, said, “The Hubbard County Board was the first to launch the effort for a complete count committee in early 2019. Then the Park Rapids City Council and the League of Women Voters Park Rapids Area, who initially raised the issue at a public meeting in March 2019, also signed on to support a complete count committee. The anticipation was that with a more complete census count, more federal dollars, based on that count would come back to Park Rapids. The Park Rapids School Board responded equally positively, and in August 2019, the initial team of five began organizing the effort, identifying 20 organization leaders and Hubbard County residents to serve on the committee.
“After receiving training provided by the Duluth office of the Census Bureau in October 2019, the team began sharing ideas for outreach and making it happen, until early March when COVID-19 affected the kinds of outreach that were permitted. The count, beginning at the same time, slowed down dramatically and is still recovering. By Aug. 11, when census workers were deployed in Hubbard County, the count had reached 48.7%. The original date to complete the delayed census was Dec. 31, but has since been moved to Sept. 30. Every person still counts, but must respond to the census by Sept. 30 to be counted. Yes, you count!”