January 31, 2010
Counting on workers: Census Bureau recruits for thousands of local temporary jobs
Special to NWjobs
It’s a once-in-a-decade job opportunity: Help your community and earn some money by working as a census taker for a few weeks this spring.
In the Puget Sound region, the U.S. Census Bureau is hiring about 4,000 temporary workers to help complete the 2010 census, says Michaellyn Garcia, recruiting coordinator for the Seattle Regional Census Center.
Record unemployment levels have created high interest in census-taker positions, also known as enumerators, Garcia says. “In general, we are seeing a lot more experience in our applicant pool,” she says.
Candidates come from all walks of life. “It’s a mix of people looking for additional income (and) people who want to help their communities and be part of this monumental effort,” Garcia says. “That is what we see in every census.”
The jobs pay $17.50 an hour in the greater Seattle-Tacoma-Everett area. Most census-taker jobs will last from two to eight weeks, says Ralph Lee, director of the Census Bureau’s Seattle region.
Besides the temporary 2010 census jobs, the Seattle Regional Census Center has several permanent openings for field representatives.
Field representatives interview residents of local households, gathering information on topics such as jobs, health and housing, says Ralph Lee, regional Census director. The date is gathered throughout the decade for the Census Bureau and other federal agencies.
Field representatives are based at home, use laptop computers and must be able to work evenings and weekends. Workloads range from 40 to 100 hours each month. In the Puget Sound area, the jobs pay $14.01-$15.68 an hour, and paid training is provided.
To apply for a permanent job, call 888-722-8995.
Sounds good, but just what does a census taker do?
“For the bulk of the people that we’ll be hiring, they’re following up on households that have not returned their census forms,” Lee says. That means they go door-to-door to collect the population information, which is vital in determining how federal funds are allocated and how many seats the state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Anne Marie Watson, assistant manager for administration at the Seattle Census office, helped train and supervise census takers for the 2000 census. She says most of them enjoyed the work. “They said, ‘I feel part of the American experience. It’s part of my duty. I couldn’t be in the Army, but I can do this,’ ” Watson says.
To be eligible for census-taker jobs, applicants must be at least 18; pass a background check; read, write and speak English; pass a written test of basic reading comprehension, basic math and some map-reading skills; have access to a vehicle for most jobs (mileage reimbursement is provided); and be able to work evenings and weekends.
Bilingual candidates are encouraged to apply. U.S. citizens receive hiring preference, but if a specific language skill is needed and no citizens are available, legal non-citizens may be hired. Veterans also receive hiring preference.
Ideally, census takers work in the communities where they live. “We recruit everywhere, because we need people from every community,” Garcia says. Census takers work independently from home, reporting regularly to a crew chief. Workloads can vary from 20 to 40 hours per week.
Applicants should start by calling the toll-free number 866-861-2010, which directs them by ZIP code to the closest Census Bureau office. Callers receive application instructions and are scheduled for the skills test. “People are welcome to take the test as often as they want to improve their score,” Garcia says.
The bulk of the hiring is slated for late February, followed by a week of paid training in March before fieldwork begins in April. For more information, visit 2010.census.gov.
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