What’s the Census for?
The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 2) mandates a headcount every 10 years, of everyone residing in the United States. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens.
The Constitution mandates a census to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. There are 435 Representatives, a number fixed by law. Minnesota is one of 9 states projected to lose a seat because our population is not growing as fast as other states that are projected to gain a seat. High participation in the 2020 Census may allow Minnesota to overcome our lesser growth and keep the 8 seats we currently have.
States also use the totals to redraw their legislative districts. The U.S. Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the President of the United States by December 31, 2020.
What Does the Census Mean for Watertown?
Federal dollars are guided by Census counts:
- In 2016, Minnesota received $15.5 billion dollars through 55 federal spending programs guided by data derived from the 2010 census.
- For each person not counted in the census, Minnesota loses over $20,000 in federal funds per person per decade!
- These federal dollars fund school lunches, highway planning and construction, federal student loans and Pell grants, Medicaid, Medicare part B, SNAP, and many other programs that benefit residents of Watertown.
Watertown directly benefits from a higher Census count:
- About 6% of Watertown revenue comes from the state of Minnesota in the form of Local Government Aid (LGA), which we invest in capital investments like infrastructure, facilities, and equipment. LGA is a general-purpose aid that can be used for any expenditure by cities like Watertown and thus these funds provide property tax relief. The 2020 Census will help determine the amount of LGA we get; maximizing LGA is vitally important to our city.
- Cities with a population above 5,000 receive greater funding from the state of Minnesota for road projects related to state aid roads. While Watertown population in the 2010 Census was 4,225, we have seen steady growth since then, with our last estimate at approximately 4,600 residents. We would anticipate roughly $150,000 each year for state aid road projects. Getting an accurate count in 2020 will be important for securing needed state funds to keep our roads in good shape.