Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts every person in the country.
“The census is a huge operation, nationwide and of course here in Montana,” media specialist Josh Manning said. “This has been going on since 1790 when it was put in the Constitution. It is our civic duty to fill out the census, so we get an accurate count of the number of people living in the United States of America.”
The next census isn’t until the spring of 2020, but representatives have already started prep work.
“This is the biggest deployment of civil servants in peace time in the nation’s history,” Manning said.
Manning said the census is important for a number of reasons.
It not only decides how many seats the state get in the U.S. House of Representatives, but it also determines how federal money will be allocated to individual states.
This year the census estimates that about $675 billion will be divided up across the states.
“Every 10 years you get one shot to determine how much of a share each state gets, so Montana is competing for its share of that money,” Manning said.
Manning says it’s important for not only those living in big cities but also rural Montanans to perform their civic duty by filling out the census.
“It’s those little communities. it’s those little towns that are changing. They are the ones not necessarily getting left behind, but they are the ones that need to have their roads improved and their hospitals improved. They are the ones that need to have that infrastructure development. They need to be counted. They need to be included, too. They are getting left behind if Montana is getting left behind in terms of these counts,” Manning said.
Starting in March, residents will start seeing the census in the mail or have someone knocking on your door.
There is also a way to fill it out online or over the phone.
“We need to turn out, and we need to make sure we are counted,” Manning said. “Every question on that form matters to make sure that Montanans are completely and accurately counted.”
The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring. You can visit their website for job opportunities.
The 2010 census counted 989,409 Montanans.
Census workers estimate they’ll count just over a million people in Montana in 2020.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News