Recent reports have found that Minnesota’s participation ranking in the 2020 Census has fallen from first in the nation to eleventh — due in part to a lack of follow-up outreach from the Census Bureau.

This week, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, along with Representatives Angie Craig (MN-02), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Betty McCollum (MN-04), and Ilhan Omar (MN-05), sent a letter to the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, expressing concerns regarding recent reports about the lack of follow-up outreach conducted by the Census Bureau’s field operations in Minnesota for the 2020 U.S. Census and urging the Census Bureau to honor its previously announced completion date of October 31, 2020 and continue operations under this modified timeline. Recent reports have found that Minnesota’s participation ranking in the 2020 Census has fallen from first in the nation to eleventh. The report also found that response rates remain low in several Minnesotan communities, including communities of color, immigrant, and indigenous communities, as well as rural and student communities. Additionally, a sampling of Hennepin County residents who have not self-responded have yet to receive follow-up outreach from the Census Bureau.

The following is the letter:

We write to express our serious concerns regarding recent reports about the lack of follow-up outreach conducted by the Census Bureau’s field operations in Minnesota for the 2020 U.S. Census and also to urge the Census Bureau to honor its previously announced completion date of October 31, 2020 and continue operations under this modified timeline to ensure that every Minnesotan is counted.

An accurate and comprehensive census is fundamental to our democracy and the well-being of communities across the country—yet recent reports have found that Minnesota’s participation ranking in the 2020 Census has fallen from first in the nation to eleventh and noted that the lack of follow-up outreach conducted by the Census Bureau as a key contributing factor. As of September 2, reports found that the Non-response Follow-up (NRFU) completion rate, which indicates the field work that remains for census takers, is 73 percent complete in the Duluth Area Census Office (ACO) and 74 percent complete in the Rochester ACO, which is less than other areas in the state. The Minnesota State Demographic Office reported that a sampling of Hennepin County residents who have not self-responded have yet to receive follow-up outreach from the Census Bureau. Reports have also highlighted that response rates remain low in several Minnesotan communities, including communities of color and immigrant and indigenous communities, as well as rural and student communities.

The Census Bureau plays a vital role in ensuring that everyone is counted for the U.S. Census, which helps determine key decisions, such as the amount of funding that states and local communities receive from the federal government for priorities such as health care, education, housing, and infrastructure. While we recognize that the Census Bureau has implemented new strategies to reach people during the pandemic, we have serious concerns that the follow-up field work in Minnesota is not sufficient to ensure that every Minnesotan will be counted in the 2020 Census.

Therefore, we urge you to honor the previously announced completion date of October 31, 2020 and to provide a detailed plan outlining steps the Census Bureau will take—including specific actions to ensure communities with low response rates are contacted and how the Census Bureau intends to count households that cannot be reached through follow-up operations—to ensure every Minnesotan is counted. In addition, we respectfully request that you provide the following information:

• The total number of housing units that will be contacted through NRFU, by county;

• The number and percent of housing units that were completed through an in-person interview with a household member for each MN county;

• The number and percent of housing units that were completed by a proxy respondent (who was not a household member) for each MN county; and

• The number and percent of housing units that received six visits from census enumerators without reaching a household member for each Minnesota county.

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