Will a government shutdown slow Census information to Minnesota?

There are plenty of groups closely watching budget negotiations in Washington D.C. If an agreement isn’t reached on a continuing budget resolution, the federal government will be forced to shut down on March 4th. Federal employees could be out of work until a resolution is found. Also, applications for passports and visas, national parks and payments to federal contractors would be affected.

One other major problem could be how U.S. Census data is distributed. Many states, including Minnesota, are waiting for specific population numbers to help guide how the political boundaries are drawn. The state has to redraw the political maps for Congress and the state Legislature every 10 years.

Minnesota State Demographer Tom Gillaspy says he expects to get the data sometime in the next two weeks. But he’s worried that a government shutdown will delay that delivery.

“There’s a lot of data that needs to come out of the U.S. Census Bureau in the next few weeks,” Gillaspy said. “I hope that there’s not going to be anything that is going to slow that process down because that would set us off late in beginning the redistricting process.”

Gillaspy also says state officials also have one less month to complete the process than they did 10 years ago because the state’s primary was changed to August.

Michael Cook, with the U.S. Census Bureau, wouldn’t “get into hypotheticals” as to whether the data release could be slowed because of a government shutdown. He said the Census Bureau has a contingency plan in place if a government shutdown occurs but wouldn’t disclose specifics.

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