The Potluck

D’oh! Wisconsin beat us last time in Census participation. Come on Minnesotans!

By: - January 21, 2020 2:09 pm

Bad news, Minnesota: Wisconsin has us beat on Census participation last time.

Take consolation in the fact that at least they didn’t best us by much.

Wisconsin had the nation’s highest participation rate in 2010; 82% of households mailed back the Census questionnaire, compared to 81% in Minnesota. Minnesota was thoroughly embarrassed in 2000, when — horror of horrors — the state ranked third, behind both Iowa (ugh) and Wisconsin.

And it’s not just bragging rights among civics nerds. This is a huge deal: The high-stakes decennial count determines how the nation’s 435 House of Representatives seats are divided up, and Minnesota is in danger of losing a House seat. The Census also determines the flow of federal funds to states and local governments for education, health and other programs.

Minnesota’s participation rate was well above the national average of about 73% in 2010, according to participation data from the Census Bureau. Alaska’s was the lowest, with 64% of households returning questionnaires.

Children, people of color, people in rural areas, low-income adults, immigrants and LGBTQ+ people are at risk of being undercounted, per the nonpartisan research organization Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Census Bureau says people experiencing homelessness and transient people are also historically hard to count. 


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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.