The Rochester offices of the U.S. Census Bureau are buzzing with activity as it gears up for the 2020 population count.
Potential employees were busy filing applications at 300 11th Ave. NW this week to fill out the workforce needed to complete the southern Minnesota portion of the once-in-a-decade tally.
The Census, which also has offices in Minneapolis and Duluth, aims to "Count everyone once, only once, and in the right place" to provide data for calculating the annual distribution of an estimated $675 billion in federal funds, mapping out statewide political districts as well as local school districts, among many other things.
In the 2010 Census, Rochester was reported as having a population of 117,444, the first time it broke the 100,000 barrier and became officially listed as a "First-Class City." This count will calculate how much the Med City has grown in the past decade.
For Olmsted County, the Census is still looking for more than 200 hires to hit its goal. Even more people are needed in Winona County, where 400 workers are still being sought.
"These are great opportunities for people like school teachers or students ... looking for good supplemental income," said Jim Accurso, a St. Paul-based Minnesota partnership specialist.
In Olmsted County, the Census is offering pay of $25 an hour for flexible, part-time schedules of five to 35 hours a week.
While they are looking for more employees, the Census office is also preparing for its first mailing. The mailings will encourage people to fill out the 10-question Census form online or by telephone. People should expect the first Census notices to arrive in their mailboxes during the week of March 12.
"What's new this year is the option for responding online. About 95 percent of homes will get a mailer," he said. "The questions are available in 12 languages in addition to English."
For people who might be concerned how the Census data will be used, such as people with undocumented residents living in their home, Accurso said that personally identifiable information will remain private.
"Per Title 13, any of the information that we collect cannot be shared with any other governmental organization, and it won't," he said.
After households have been contacted during March and April about filling out the Census, workers called enumerators will start going to homes that have not responded in May, June and July. Each worker going door-to-door with have identification. Anyone concerned about the identity of someone claiming to be with the Census can call the local office for confirmation or can go online to find the employee's profile with the Census.
However a person chooses to respond — either online, by phone or in person — responding means a lot for the community, said Accurso.
"It's everyone's civic duty. This is very important," he said. "This data will be used to decide federal funding for the area for the next 10 years."