Census time: stand up and be counted

WORTHINGTON - It's almost time to stand up and be counted - for the census, that is. In advance of the Constitutionally mandated U.S. Census, groups are being formed around the country to make sure everyone is counted. Hence the name, Complete Count Committees.

A Complete Count committee met for the first time in Worthington this week, under the guidance of Assistant City Administrator Jason Brisson. Facilitating that first meeting was Andrew Virden, Director of Census Operations and Engagement, who explained the reasons behind the census, why it matters and what makes it difficult.

Some resident may still have concerns about a citizenship question, Virden said, but that question was blocked by the Supreme Court.

Answering the census is safe," Virden said. "The census cannot share information with anyone for any reason."

That means the information regarding how many people live in a rental house can't be shared to a landlord, that school district, child welfare offices, and local and federal government do not have access to personal information.

It's all about the numbers. The census count controls political power, money and data. Minnesota is in danger of losing a congressional seat and competing with the entire country to keep it.

Invitations will go out in mid-March, and 75 to 80 percent of the population will get a postcard asking them to go to a website and complete the form. About 20 percent of the people will get a paper form in the mail.

According to Brisson, Worthington has a tract of area that is designated as hard to count. That area is within city limits east of Minnesota 60, cutting through downtown.

One obstacle to accurate numbers is a language barrier. The Census Bureau supports English and 12 other languages, but Somali and Hmong are not included. The most important thing to be done to get a complete count is to educate the public.

Virden said there are many good-paying jobs to be had with the census. They can be found at 2020census.gov/jobs. Anyone who is over the age of 18, a citizen and proficient in English is qualified, and waivers of age and citizenship can be waived if a person is bilingual.

Anyone who wants more information about the Worthington Complete Count Committee can contact Brisson at 372-8623.

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