Are You a Minnesota Snowbird or Do You Know One?

Calling all snowbirds who have flown the coop to warmer climates for winter: Minnesota needs you to fly back home by April 1 for the 2010 U.S. Census. The reason is that Minnesota residents can't simply fill out the census form they get at their winter home. The forms are geo-coded to each address, meaning that filling out a form in Arizona will count toward that state, not Minnesota. And this year, the state has a lot riding on the census.

"If even a fraction of Minnesotans miss this opportunity, we could easily be left with only seven representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives," State Demographer Tom Gillaspy said in a news release. The State Demographic Center estimates that fewer than 3,000 people could be critical for Minnesota to retain its eighth House member.

Additionally, the census numbers affect funding the state receives from the federal government. Every person counts!

"Each resident who fills out a census form is responsible for bringing as much as $14,000 back to the state over 10 years out of the $400 billion the federal government distributes based on census numbers," said Ryan Dolan, campaign coordinator of the 2010 census.

Snowbirds are retirees who leave Minnesota for five or more weeks at a time, starting in November. They tend to accumulate in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. The average age is just under 70. They account for about 10% of the state's retired population. That's more than 65,000 people!

If snowbirds are not home before April 1, they will need to obtain a replacement form when they get back. Replacement forms can be picked up at questionnaire assistance centers open from March 19 through April 19. They are located at DMV offices, libraries, city halls and community centers statewide.

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