Missoula’s monthly City Club gathering at the Doubletree Hotel brought two officials from the U.S. Census, including Mary Craigle, the Resources and Information Bureau Chief at the Montana Department of Commerce, and the director of the Census and Economic Information Center.

Craigle explained the difficulty of conducting the census in a rural state like Montana.

“There are so-called hard-to-count populations,” she said. “Montana has several populations that we’re particularly concerned about. One is our tribal population. Last census nearly five percent of all native peoples were not counted nationwide, and that’s an area we really need to address. Because the state is so rural and the census this time will be taken online and by cell phone, and there are many areas of the state where broadband is not available, and cell service is spotty.”

Craigle quoted a recent report that details the importance of counting everyone in the census.

“A George Washington University study found that for every Montanan, we receive back about $2,000 per year for ten years, so that’s $20,000 per person in federal funding,” she said. “That’s our fair share, the amount of funding we should be getting. We miss five people, that’s $100,000 and the numbers just get incredible. In addition, there are lots of models that indicate Montana could qualify for a second representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Craigle said the amount of federal monies Montana receives is staggering.

“It adds up to $2 billion per year and that’s $20 billion over ten years. Approximately $7 trillion is allocated nationwide by the census over the ten year period.”

At the meeting were representatives of various school and nonprofit groups that will see monies allocated through the census, which gets underway, of all days, on April 1, 2020.