Last night I attended a presentation by Tom Gillaspy, Minnesota’s State Demographer. He was invited to speak in Northfield on demographic trends by the Northfield/Cannon Falls League of Women Voters. I thank them for arranging for this informative talk and discussion. A good sized group of area residents showed up at the Community Resource Bank to hear Mr. Gillaspy.
He first talked to us about how the 2010 United States census is being conducted. The US has been taking a census since 1790 as required by Article 1, section 2 of our Constitution. For the past decades it has been taken on April 1st every 10 years….but as he pointed out, Congress establishes the procedures used for taking the census. Since 1980 the census has been done using a ‘mail-out and mail-back’ procedure. If the address does not respond by mail, then follow up phone calls are made, and if that doesn’t work a personal visit from a census taker is made. Overall the process sounds very thorough. Mr. Gillaspy noted that Minnesota has led the nation for several census reports as far as properly counting the people in the state. This will be very important this year as the 385 seats in the US House of Representatives that are apportioned could be adjusted in several states. It is possible that Minnesota could lose one of our 8 Congressional seats.
Mr. Gillaspy then talked to us about the ‘age of entitlements’ that we have entered. Economic growth in the next 25 years will be about half of what it was during the previous 25 years. This is a huge concern for state and local governments as the entitlement programs that have been created are going to be very difficult to financially support in their current form. The 2008 recession is going much deeper than any other recent recession. The over age 65 population is rising and will really start accelerating in 2011 when the baby boomers begin retiring.
I appreciate Mr. Gillaspy getting out and speaking to groups about our demographic trends. It is clear to me that changes are going to be needed in the amount, type and delivery system for government services.