The U.S. Bureau of the Census wants you.
“Earn extra income while helping your community,” the bureau’s website states. “The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count.”
One of those already involved in census activity said there was a need for hundreds while talking to seniors at the Clymer Social Center.
“They need 800 in Indiana County,” recruiter Norm Stout said. “I have to use the resources available to me to reach that goal.”
He’s taking that message to food banks, festivals, fairs, and gatherings as he seeks out veterans, people with disabilities and others.
“We start at 13 to 18 dollars an hour,” Stout said. “Every county has a different pay rate. Westmoreland County needs 2,200.”
At an April briefing in Washington, D.C., the bureau emphasized a need for “innovative, collaborative partnerships to ensure a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States.”
The bureau’s director said the count is needed to determine how many seats each state will get in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“To meet that requirement, we go to extraordinary lengths to ensure we count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” Director Dr. Steven Dillingham said. “Census data guide how federal, state and local funding for critical services such as schools, fire departments and health care facilities is distributed.”
The briefing happened one year to the day from when the Census Bureau expects to reach all U.S. households with invitations to participate, either online, by mail or by telephone.
The actual counting focuses on April 1, 2020, but the first count of people will begin in Toksook Bay, Alaska, on Jan. 21, 2020, because many residents leave following the spring thaw and ice break-up to fish and hunt or for other warm-weather jobs.
An email to the bureau produced this response:
“Please see the following link … https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.”
That website does include specifics of what’s needed.
“We are hiring for a variety of temporary jobs, including census takers, recruiting assistants, office staff, and supervisory staff,” the website went on. “To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number, and be a U.S. citizen.”
Specifically, Stout said, they need “people who can do geographic canvassing ... that starts this fall and continues into the winter.”
With that in mind, the bureau has hired nearly 900 early operations recruiting assistants; designated 38 area census offices as ready for business; reviewed more than 11 million census blocks; and improved or corrected more than 75 million addresses in those blocks.
An application is required, along with an assessment questionnaire. The bureau said some assessment questions are available in Spanish, though an English proficiency test also may be required.
And if someone doesn’t remember those public service announcements the Selective Service System often aired on the radio, any male born after Dec. 31, 1959, must be registered with Selective Service (the draft if one ever is mobilized again) or have a qualifying exemption.
Male or female, a Census-performed criminal background check also is involved, along with a review of criminal records, including fingerprinting.
And more requirements:
• Commit to completing training
• Be available to work flexible hours, which can include days, evenings and weekends
• Have access to a vehicle and a valid driver’s license, unless public transportation is readily available
• Have access to a computer with internet and an email account (to complete training)
This could be a side job. However, the census bureau advised, “your current job must be compatible with Census Bureau employment and not create conflicts of interest. These will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”
Finally, “you must not engage in any partisan political activity while on duty.”
Tim Olson, the bureau’s associate director for field operations, highlighted the value of engaging local communities in a successful census operation.
“Our hiring and partnership strategy recognizes that trusted, familiar voices can make a big difference in motivating census participation,” Olson said. “Our partners will also play a critical role in helping recruit the thousands of people we will rely on to conduct a complete and accurate census.”
Partnerships will include “complete count committees” on a regional basis. The bureau already has helped establish more than 1,500 such committees.
As described at a recent White Township supervisors’ meeting by township Assistant Manager Chris Anderson, such a committee would consist of “a broad spectrum of government and community leaders,” which locally could be from the township and such nearby entities as Indiana Borough and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“It is very important to count everyone in a census,” Anderson said, quoting a census bureau official from the regional office in Philadelphia who met with the township’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee.