Because Montana is on the cusp of adding a second representative in Congress, state officials will be watching the final numbers of the 2020 census closely.
If Montana’s count is up and other states are down, Montana could pick up another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. If Montana is able to obtain another representative, it would be at least another four years before that seat is filled.
The Montana Legislature would have to draw the boundary line for representation, and the count will also determine the state’s share of federal funding for the next decade for highways and need-based support. Montana received over $2 billion from the 15 largest federal assistance programs in 2015, including $914 million in Medicaid funding.
Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, chairman of the state’s Complete Count Committee and a Democratic candidate for governor, said it’s important every person in the state gets counted. He said each person is worth about $2,000 each year over the life of a 10-year census cycle — that’s $20,000 for each person over a decade. According to Cooney, the biggest challenge will be getting an accurate count of people in rural and tribal communities.
The official census count will start in April 2020. There will be efforts to count people online, by telephone, through the mail and by census workers knocking on doors.
Census contacts and questionnaires will come from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau.