Have you filled out your Census yet?

The US Census is underway, and the stakes could not be higher for AFSCME members and the communities we serve.

Most people have heard about the 2020 Census, but fewer people know why participating in the once-a-decade population count is important. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • America gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The results will have a massive impact on our communities for years to come.
  • Billions of dollars are at stake. The distribution of more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on census data.
  • AFSCME jobs depend on an accurate count. Federal funds for everything from foster care to highway repairs is distributed based on Census data. If our neighbors don’t get counted, our workplaces don’t get the necessary funding to provide critical services like schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.
  • Participating in the Census is your civic duty. Completing the census is mandatory: it’s a way to participate in our democracy and say, “I COUNT!”

As of June 18, Minnesota leads the nation with a response rate of 71.1%. This is nearly 10% higher than the national average of 61.6%.

But that means that nearly 3 in 10 households have still not responded to the 2020 Census. These families are less likely to be included in the count, including renters, low-income families, and families of color. That’s why it is essential for all Minnesotans to fill out the Census by completing and mailing back the paper questionnaire, responding online at 2020census.gov, or by phone at 844-330-2020 using the provided Census ID. If you have already completed your Census, we need you to make sure your family, friends, and neighbors also fill out the Census.

Though COVID-19 is still a threat to our communities, the US Census has worked hard to ensure that the health and safety of the public and Census employees are protected. 

In-person activities, including enumeration, office work, and processing activities, will always incorporate the most current guidance from authorities to ensure the health and safety of staff and the public and Census Bureau employees. 

Some in-person canvassing is necessary to ensure a complete and accurate count, but the Census has changed their usual protocol to limit exposure to the virus. Selected field operations will resume on a phased schedule on a geographic basis. Once the Census, in partnership with local officials, have determined that in-person canvassing can begin, Census employees will complete a virtual COVID-19 training to ensure they follow appropriate social distancing protocols and all appropriate health and safety guidance. In the field, these Census canvassers will wear face masks and gloves and use hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Despite these precautions, the safest bet is to fill out your Census form before in-person canvassing begins. That’s why it’s even more important to complete your Census now - and ensure your loved ones do the same.

Your AFSCME siblings, and everyone that relies on the public services we provide, depend on an accurate Census count. AFSCME members know that state and local governments depend on federal funding to deliver services to those who need them most. The Census is personal for us: AFSCME members know the consequences of underfunded government for our communities. Without an accurate Census count, kids who need nutrition assistance won’t get it. People who need job training won’t get it. Schools that need resources won’t get them. Roads and bridges will crumble. Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities will be forced to live without basic access to health care.

COVID-19 only makes this reality starker. “The coronavirus pandemic is exposing the grave, life-and-death consequences of shortchanging essential public services,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “To make sure your community has the resources it needs and the political representation it deserves, an accurate Census count is critical. Your participation means your community gets its fair share of funding for schools, health care, housing, infrastructure projects and more.”

All our members, and every one of our neighbors, matter. All of us deserve to be counted. Take time today to make sure everyone in your community is counted by visiting 2020census.gov.