Agencies gearing up for 2010 censusby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Officials from the U.S. Census are trying to raise awareness about the count -- even though it's a year away.
The federal government tries to count everyone in the United States every 10 years. The figures are used to distribute federal funds and to determine how many Congressional districts each state gets.
Minnesota is at risk of losing one of its eight seats after the next census.
Dennis Johnson is the regional director for the Census Bureau. He says one of the biggest challenges census workers face is getting new immigrants to understand and trust the process.
"The countries they come from may not have the same system we have and the census operation may not be as safe and they many not be used in the same way as ours," he said. "Convincing them that this is a safe process and it's important to be represented in their communities is our biggest challenge."
By law, information collected by the census is not shared with any other government agencies.
Johnson said states receive about $1,000 per person each year over 10 years for every person that's counted. That's why, he said, he doesn't want anyone to be missed.
"If that person is missed, that's $10,000 that won't be coming back to their communities. That's significant," he said. "Certainly, right now we're all feeling the pinch. Federal, state, local, businesses are feeling the pinch. We're in an economic time that is not as rosy as it once was."
A number of government agencies and community organizations are kicked off their census efforts Wednesday.