Census 2020 is hiring

Here’s your guide

Census
BORIS YARO/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
This paperwork was used by census takers in 2000.

SPECIAL TO THE TRICE EDNEY NEWS WIRE
FROM ETHNIC MEDIA SERVICES

The Census Bureau has said it expects to hire about a half-million people nationwide to help in its all-important counting of everybody living in the United States – something the government has done every 10 years since 1790.

That half-million hiring target is a sizable decrease from the last census, in 2010, when the bureau was more dependent on shoe leather than silicon to get the work done.

Going online

Instead of the 635,000 people hired in 2010 to knock on doors to fill out questionnaires with people who hadn’t gotten theirs to the mailbox, in 2020, for the first time, the government is counting on people filling out their forms online.

The half-million Census Bureau jobs are open to any U.S. citizen who can pass a background check, is at least 18 and possesses a Social Security number. In California, census officials project they will fill or already have filled about 12,800 positions.

“It’s a relatively fluid number, just a projection,” said Celeste Jimenez, assistant regional census manager based in Los Angeles.

That’s because for “enumerators,” the biggest category of census workers, the number of people hired will depend on how many people didn’t complete their census questionnaires promptly next year, leading the Census Bureau to hire people who know their communities and languages and can go out into the field and come back with completed questionnaires from the non-responders.

Focused on staffing

This year, the Census Bureau is focused on setting up and staffing offices across the country and checking and updating the list of addresses used to send people reminders and instructions on filling out the 2020 Census questionnaire online when it is released in mid-March.

In California, where there will be 30 census offices up and down the state, the administrative jobs – mostly already filled or due to fill soon – are expected to last all the way through till the census-gathering is completed next summer, at a pay scale ranging from $18 to $51 per hour, depending on the assignment and the location.

The next wave of hiring, for “listers” who will do the address verification work this year, is underway. Those jobs pay from $16.50 to $33 per hour and are expected to last only for a couple of months, including paid training.

To apply for these positions, go to https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html.

Follow-up help

Next year, after mailings are sent out with instructions on the legally required process of filling out the census questionnaires, the biggest wave of hiring will begin for field staff or enumerators to do the non-response followup work that in large part consists of knocking on doors at addresses where residents didn’t file completed questionnaires.

These positions also will be filled through the Census Bureau website: https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html.

The Census Bureau hopes that having people file their questionnaires online will yield billions of dollars in savings on the shoe leather it’s always needed to get those questionnaires completed. It expects at least half of the country’s more than 300 million people to take the online option.

Reduced costs

In the past, with questionnaires submitted through “snail mail,” the cost per person of gathering census data had grown to $92 in 2010, from just $16 in 1970, as measured in constant dollars.

The ability to bridge language barriers will be invaluable, and in fact is a requirement for some of the managerial positions the Census Bureau still has open. Bilingual census staff will be needed wherever five percent or more of a community is believed to primarily use another language.

The Census Bureau is touting its jobs as ideal for people just starting their working life who need to establish a record of reliability, for people who can use the frequently evening or weekend hours to supplement jobs they already have, or for retirees who would like to re-enter the workforce in a limited way.

Ex-felons can apply

As for the background checks, hiring will be on a case-by-case basis, so having a felony conviction, for instance, isn’t necessarily a disqualifier.

Payday comes every week and people using their cars will be reimbursed. Although the jobs are in most cases temporary, the work occasionally can lead to a career. For career info, go to https://census.ca.gov/job-opportunities/

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