Census hiring process begins

Workers needed for local canvassing

Nov. 13, 2019 — The United States Census Bureau has been making preparations to conduct the 2020 Census for the better part of the past two years. The next stage of the process begins this month with the initiation of a nationwide recruitment program with the stated goal of hiring more than 500,000 workers across the United States to conduct the census.

The hiring and training of workers for the 2020 Census has begun in earnest as the Census Bureau is now actively seeking applicants for these positions. In the Pacific Northwest, tens of thousands of workers will be needed for a variety of different jobs related to the accurate description and counting of everyone in the state and the region.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown recently released a statement on the importance of participation in this year’s census.

“The decennial (2020) census is the foundation of our democracy and an integral component to making sure that families across Oregon have the resources they need to thrive. As governor, I am committed to working with both public and private partners across Oregon to make sure we have a fair and accurate census,” Brown said, “From more dollars for our schools and hospitals to ensuring our roads are safe and well kept, the census has a profound and significant effect in the everyday lives of all Oregonians. An accurate census not only allows us to have better representation in congress but it also tells the story of Oregon — who we are and where we are going. Make yourself count in 2020.”

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted once every 10 years. Everyone living in the 50 states and the five U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census.

The first census began a year after George Washington took office and was managed by then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.

Most importantly, from the framers’ perspective, census data is used to determine congressional representation in individual states. It is also used to determine how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed to states and local communities. These projects include critical public services and infrastructure like health clinics, schools, roads and emergency services.

The process applicants must undertake to be hired for one of the positions might take as long as two months according to Census Bureau Associate Director of Field Operations Tim Olson.

“We need people to apply now so they can be considered for part-time census taker positions next spring,” said Olson. “Recent high school graduates, veterans, retirees, military spouses, seasonal workers and applicants who are bilingual are highly encouraged to apply. It’s important we hire people in every community in order to have a complete and accurate census.”

The Census Bureau has also just released a series of public service announcements designed to inform the public of the process behind the count. The PSAs let people know that there may already be census workers in their neighborhoods to check addresses, distribute or pick up surveys or conduct quality checks related to the survey.

These PSAs also point out some noticeable changes to the 2020 Census, including an option to fill out the census form digitally and clarification of opposite-sex or same-sex spouse of partner.

If someone does visit a home seeking information, residents are within their rights to request to see their I.D. badge, which should have a picture of the worker, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If one still has questions about an individual’s identity, they can contact the Regional Census Center to speak with a Census Bureau representative.

Census takers who verify addresses are called address canvassers. These workers help ensure an accurate and complete count by verifying addresses and noting where houses, apartments, shelters and other residences are located. Census takers will attempt to knock on every door in the neighborhood they are canvassing, sometimes returning on multiple occasions to obtain the necessary information.

The importance of accurate data gathering is highlighted in all of the information distributed by the Census Bureau. The data is used to assist municipal leaders with decision making related to education, infrastructure.

The 2020 Census officially starts counting people in January 2020 in remote Toksook Bay, Alaska. Most households in the nation will receive invitations in the mail to respond (online, by phone or by mail) in March 2020. The Census Bureau will begin advertising nationwide in January 2020 to increase awareness about the importance and benefits of participating in the census.

To be eligible for a 2020 Census job, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Have a valid email address.
  • Complete an application and answer assessment questions. (Some assessment questions are available in Spanish. However, an English proficiency test may also be required.)
  • Be registered with the Selective Service System or have a qualifying exemption, if you are a male born after Dec. 31, 1959.
  • Pass a census-performed criminal background check and a review of criminal records, including fingerprinting.
  • Commit to completing training.
  • Be available to work flexible hours, which can include days, evenings, and/or weekends.

The hourly pay for census jobs varies depending on responsibilities and location. The pay structure, application process and further information related to the 2020 Census are available at 2020census.gov.


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