Every 10 years the federal government conducts what is known as the decennial census – a count of the entire population of the United States.

The census, which was first conducted in 1790, was established under Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The census is a mandated activity, and the public data that is collected is used by various entities and agencies as important decisions are made.

At the government level, the data is utilized to draw federal, state and local legislative boundary lines, and the way funding is distributed is based on the population count.

Jim Accurso, a Minnesota partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, was in Redwood Falls Feb. 25 to offer informational sessions for the public. Those sessions were coordinated by Redwood County and the City of Redwood Falls and were held as a way to help kick off the effort to county everyone.

While efforts to hold the census have been going on for some time, public involvement in the census is scheduled to commence very soon. In fact, people should be seeing a document in their mail around March 12. 

One of the points Accurso emphasized is the fact that the information that is collected during the census remains confidential. Responses may only be used by the U.S. Census Bureau to produce statistics and can’t be used against responders in any way.

Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code the census bureau can’t release any information about individuals, households or businesses to anyone, even other agencies in the federal government.

Accurso said a complete count is critical in Minnesota, as the data will be used to determine the number of representatives the state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The state currently has eight, but that could be reduced to seven if the population number does not meet a certain threshold. Data is also critical as it relates to local funding.

Learn more at 2020census.gov.