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2010 census critical to Minnesota

Ten years ago, Moorhead officials raised a fuss when it appeared census takers failed to count a large share of the city's college students because the tally was taken after young people left for the summer.

The count wasn't changed, and Minnesota learned an important lesson: Count students before they go home, said Ryan Dolan, of the State Demographic Center.

Dolan held a workshop Wednesday in Moorhead to advise area officials on how to work with and assist census takers next year.

He said making sure every head gets counted is extremely important for Minnesota.

The state is about 1,700 people away from losing a congressional seat, something Dolan said could happen if census takers miss just one person in each of the state's townships.

"That's how close it is," said Dolan, who stressed that communities must take special steps to make sure certain groups, like college students, get counted.

He said snowbirds, too, are important.

They should be informed before they head to places such as Florida and Arizona to put their Minnesota address on the census forms they receive next spring, said Dolan.

Otherwise, he added, those states could gain congressional representation at the expense of Minnesota.

Dolan said additional workshops will be held as 2010 approaches to let people know how the process will work and to educate individuals about potential employment opportunities.

Dolan said people hired for management posts can be paid up to $60,000.

Most census jobs, he said, will pay about $15 an hour. So far, according to Dolan, census officials haven't had a shortage of applicants.