U.S. Census Data and Census 2020

A critical data source for understanding the Twin Cities region and beyond

Sharing a common, accurate base of information leads to better decision-making and planning among the region's many government agencies, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and communities. To increase access and use of U.S. Census Bureau data, we serve as a Census State Data Center partner. We provide census data for the Twin Cities region, offer assistance to data users, and share feedback with the Census Bureau about their products. 

In October 2018, research staff and the Minnesota State Demographic Center briefed Metropolitan Council Members on our ongoing partnership with Census Bureau and an overview of local Census 2020 activities (see the slide deck.)

Council’s support for Census 2020

The Council engaged with the Census Bureau to improve the spatial geographic data the bureau has for the seven-county Twin Cities region. The Council also has helped to validate and redraw statistical boundaries, such as census tracts (not to be confused with political district boundaries, which are revised through other processes).

For Census 2020, the Council:

  • Provided counties and cities with its latest regionwide parcels and address data to help validate and update the Census Bureau’s address list.

  • Will review and update the boundaries of census tracts and block groups for the seven-county metro area that the U.S. Census Bureau will use from 2020 to 2029. (The comment period on planned 2020 geographies is now closed.)

  • Co-convenes quarterly meetings of the Metro Local Governments Roundtable on 2020 Census. Local government staff exchange ideas about promoting awareness and participation in the 2020 Census, sharing best practices and experience.

  • Will provide communications support to the census, with the goal of a complete count.

Read a Council newsletter, "Census Instructions Land in a Mailbox Near You" (March 2020) about how to respond and be counted in Census 2020.


Census 2020 Self-Response Rates—Interactive

The Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) has produced a searchable online map that identifies communities whose demographics and other characteristics qualify them as “hard-to-count” for purposes of the 2020 Census.

In March 2020 the Hard to Count map was revamped to focus on self-response rates i.e., the number of households that have "self-responded" by filling out the census form on their own, as a percent of housing units in a given area. Updated weekly, users can see the latest trends in 2020 Census self-response rates across the country by state, county, local community, and census tract. 

In 2020 you can self-respond one of three ways: online, by phone, or (if you've received a paper questionnaire) returning the census form by mail through October 31, 2020. 

All people living in Minnesota must complete the 2020 Census. It’s not just the law; it also helps Minnesota get its fair share of federal funds and congressional representation.

2020 Census Tract Boundaries now available—Data


The planned 2020 geographies for census tracts and tribal geographies are now available to view and download on the TIGERweb application produced by the U.S. Census Bureau

In 2019, the Council led the review and update of the boundaries of census tracts and block groups for the seven-county Twin Cities region that the U.S. Census Bureau will use from 2020 to 2029 (Learn more about the 2020 Census Participant Statistical Areas Program.) Please note that the 2020 planned geographies are not yet final. We recommend using with caution and checking frequently for updates on the Census' TIGERweb application website. 

Spatial files of the planned 2020 geographies are available to download.
The CUNY Graduate Center has a thorough FAQ about the trade-offs of using planned 2020 geographies and more information about the spatial files.

Census data available in Community Profiles

The Council's Community Profiles Tool provides current trend data for the seven-county region and Twin Cities geographies like jurisdictions, Thrive MSP 2040 Community Designations, and transit station areas. Explore census-based population characteristics, housing, commuting, and income and poverty data in downloadable charts and graphs.  

Our Download Data interface provides time-series data for the seven-county region and Twin Cities geographies like jurisdictions, Thrive MSP 2040 Community Designations, and transit station areas. A range of U.S. Census Bureau data are available to download as comma-separated values files (.csv) under "Demographic, economic, and commuting characteristics."


Minnesota Geospatial Commons

The Minnesota Geospatial Commons is a collaborative place for users and publishers of geospatial resources about Minnesota. The term “geospatial resources” refers to the wide variety of data sources associated with particular geographic locations. The Council provides summaries of Census Bureau data on this website.


Minnesota Compass at Wilder ResearchMinnesota-Compass.png

Minnesota Compass is a social indicators project that measures progress in our state and its communities. Led by Wilder Research, Minnesota Compass provides nonpartisan, credible information and tracks trends in topic areas such as education, economy, workforce, health, housing, and a host of others.

Geographic Profiles are available for the state as a whole, the 7 regions of the state, Minnesota's 87 counties, and all cities with populations of 1,000+. Each profile contains demographic information and data across Compass topic areas, drawn from U.S. Census datasets, among others.


Minnesota State Demographic Center

MN State Demographic Center.png
The Minnesota State Demographic Center (SDC), part of the Minnesota Department of Administration, is the main provider of demographic data and analysis for the state of Minnesota. The SDC assists policymakers, state and local governments, businesses, nonprofits, the media, and all Minnesotans locate and understand the demographic data they need to make smart decisions.

IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System at the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota

NHGIS.pngThe National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides easy access to summary tables and time series of population, housing, agriculture, and economic data, along with GIS-compatible boundary files, for years from 1790 through the present and for all levels of U.S. census geography, including states, counties, tracts, and blocks. 

Decennial Census

Every ten years, the decennial census counts every person in the United States. The 2010 Census asked about homeownership, gender, age, race/ethnicity— among other characteristics. Because this dataset is a complete count of all residents in the United States, it is considered the "gold standard" of demographic data. Census 2020 operations are underway; please see the section above for updates or visit 2020census.gov.

American Community Survey (ACS)

The American Community Survey samples approximately 2% of the nation's housing units each year. It gathers data about people (like education and income) and housing units (like housing type and costs). 
  • Five-year estimates are typically released each December. For example, ACS data for the 2014-2018 period were released in December 2019. Five-year data are available for all geographic areas, including all cities, townships, and census tracts.
  • One-year estimates are typically released each September. For example, ACS data for 2018 were released in September 2019. One-year data are limited to geographic areas with at least 65,000 people. This includes each of the seven counties in the Twin Cities region, along with the cities of Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Eagan, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Plymouth, Saint Paul, and Woodbury.