U.S. Census Bureau seeking local partnerships, offers job opportunities

By: 
Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

According to the United States Constitution, every 10 years, the government must take a count of the country’s population. It’s been doing so since 1790. The numbers and data the census gathers has an impact on everything from representation in government to federal funding to simply having a better understanding of the population making up the United States.
As the world approaches a new decade, the time of the census is returning and the United States Census Bureau is looking for local partnerships to help raise awareness in places like Washington County.

“For much of this year, the Census Bureau has been sending out partnership specialists to build local partnerships,” said Timothy Swarens, Census Bureau media specialist. “They’re working to form Complete Count Committees made up of volunteers to help get information out. These are people who know the issues being faced in their communities and are familiar faces people know.”

Swarens said these partnership specialists will meet with local officials, give presentations and ask permission to form the committee. The head of the committee will then gather community leaders who develop a plan for how to reach their communities.

Swarens said it’s important to get a complete and accurate count of the population, counting “them only once and in the right place.” He said congressional maps are redrawn after the census, causing some states to lose and gain representative seats, and can make an impact on how much of the around $675 billion-federal-dollar pie various areas or populations gets each year.
It’s been a while since the census has been conducted, and technology has come a long way, so what’s going to happen and when?

Starting in January, the initial count will begin in Alaska. Swarens said there are a lot of people living in very remote places there, so it makes sense to begin the Alaskan count as soon as possible. Then, in February, the count will begin in what’s called “group quarters,” places like nursing homes, university residence halls, prisons and other places people live in group settings. Then, in March, people will start receiving mailings. Individuals have the option to fill out the 9-question form online, by phone or via the mail. If they have not done so by the end of April, Census workers will be dispatched to homes to ask people to fill out the forms. Partnership Specialist Rebecca Valois, who came to speak with county commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, said these individuals will help people fill out the paper forms or assist them in filling out the form online with a tablet computer.

Swarens said he understands there are some who don’t trust the government for a variety of reasons. He said he wants to make it clear that the individual information the Census Bureau receives is kept confidential by law. Individual citizen information can’t be shared with any other government agency and courts have always upheld that confidentiality.

“Every Census Bureau employee took an oath to uphold the law and keep personal identifying information confidential,” he said. “If we intentionally or even accidently let individual information out, we will face serious penalites.”

Along with news of the census launch, the Census Bureau reported they are hiring throughout the state.

“We are undergoing a major hiring push,” said Swarens. “We’re offering very competitive wages.”

The jobs are temporary, lasting until around September 2020, and most of them are part-time, Swarens added, making them excellent opportunities for someone looking to add a second income to their current job or work their chosen hours.

“We have a variety of jobs, but mostly field workers,” he said.

To apply for Census Bureau jobs, visit 2020Census.gov/jobs and click the green “Apply Now” button at the top, right-hand corner of the screen.

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