WASHINGTON – The U.S. Census Bureau wants you — specifically 57,000 of you, the number of people who will be needed to fill jobs just in Arizona alone for the decennial census in 2020.
It’s part of a push to hire 500,000 workers nationwide, mostly for census takers who will go door to door, but also for clerical, supervisory and outreach recruitment positions in local offices.
“The census is gearing up to do what we do best, and that’s counting everyone in America once,” said Tammy Parise, the Census Bureau’s partnership coordinator for Arizona. “We are in the process of recruiting 57,000 people in the state of Arizona alone, by county.”
Despite low unemployment rates across the country, Parise said there have been “no real challenges” attracting job-seekers to the temporary census work so far. She said the bureau has received “tens of thousands of applicants” already in Arizona and is on track to hiring the people it needs.
Pay will vary by county and job, from $14.50 to $19.50 an hour, with field employees compensated for transportation and mileage.
While the pay’s not bad, there may be another reason to apply, said Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation.
“You’re fulfilling your civic duty,” said von Spakovsky, manager of the foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative.
The bureau began taking applications in September and will continue to do so until February. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old, fluent in English and be able to pass a criminal background check. Those hired will begin paid training in March, with official work starting in the middle of the month and expected to last several weeks, according to the bureau’s FAQ page.
As of Monday, only Yuma and Santa Cruz counties had met their goals for recruiting workers, according to the Census Bureau.
In Arizona, most of the jobs will be for enumerators, the people who go door to door to interview people who have not filled out the census form. The bureau is especially looking for bilingual workers, particularly Spanish speakers.
The hiring push has been helped by large national and statewide outreach programs. Parise pointed to a campaign in October that included social media and job fairs. Schools like Northern Arizona University and Glendale Community College have also involved the Census in career fairs and on-campus recruiting.
While the numbers may seem daunting, they are actually down from the 700,000 workers who were hired for the 2010 Census, as improved technology has led to a need for fewer workers.
“We have been able to streamline many of the Census Bureau’s internal processes and therefore reduce the physical footprint in the field,” said a bureau statement.
That technology has also allowed the bureau to put job applications and employment training online – along with much of the census itself.
“For the first time in history, we have three methods of responses: online, phone and (mailed) questionnaire,” Parise said.
But some things have not changed: Census workers are subject to strict confidentiality laws, including a lifetime oath to protect the confidentiality of the data any worker may collect.
Fieldwork hours are “flexible,” but workers must be willing to work weekends and evenings so they can catch people at home. On the administrative side, the bureau says work will take typically place during regular business hours, but office employees may work during weekends and evenings, as well.
Arizona applications will begin to be examined in January, Parise said.
“We are hiring,” Parise said. “This is a great opportunity to be part of something historical.”
For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.