The Census: More than a population count

Updated: Oct. 3, 2019 at 7:37 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The data collected from the U.S. Census not only determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives, but also determines how hundreds of billions of federal dollars are distributed to states and localities for key programs, many of those through non-profits.

“It’s really important to make sure every person is counted because there are so many resources that are allocated to states based on that census,” said Elizabeth Harstad, a community impact director at the Greater Mankato Area United Way.

The data from the 2020 Census will be used for the next decade.

If the data is somehow wrong, there will be an unequal distribution of resources for basic community needs including education, health care, housing and transportation.

“If we miss people in the count for the census whether it’s children, elderly or renters, that means there would be fewer resources allocated to our community to be able to benefit those populations. It would impact our schools and it would impact our health care systems," Harstad added.

Michelle Chang is a policy and equity coordinator from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

She points out the census does a lot more than count people.

“Creating a playground in the community? They use census data to see, like, how many kids live in this area? We need to make a playground in the center of it,” Chang said.

At the end of the day, the census is a population count; a population count for inclusion, fair political representation and equitable distribution of resources.

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