Minnesota: 2010 U.S. Census More Important Than Ever

Though the state gained 35,000 residents last year, bringing its population of 5.2 million, Minnesota is on the cusp of losing one of its congressional seats.

State demographer Tom Gillaspy projected Wednesday that Minnesota could fall just 1,100 people short of what it needs to keep all eight of its seats. A thorough census count next year could be enough to change that. Minnesota last lost a congressional seat after the 1960 census.

Recent estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau showed Minnesota growing more slowly than some western and southern states. Minnesota is among 10 or 11 states likely to lose congressional seats after the census. The demographers analysis puts the state in a dead heat with Missouri, California and Texas for the final seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Fear not, Minnesota has one of the nation's best records for counting its population. Even small differences in the quality of counting in rival states could determine who gets the seat. State officials will be paying close attention to counting people who live in college dormitories and other group homes, snowbirds who fly south for the winter, and new immigrants. New parents need to remember to add infants when they fill out the form.

Households will receive the census form in the mail in mid-March and must return it by April 1. The Census Bureau is billing the 2010 form as "10 questions that can be answered in about 10 minutes."

Besides being used to apportion seats in the U.S. House, the census is also used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts.

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