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As the U.S. Census Moves Online, Workers Are Needed for 2020

The Census process has turned to online methods of information submission to catch up to the development of technology over the last decade. The U.S. Census Bureau is searching for workers and is hopeful for participants.

by Kenwyn Caranna, News & Record, Greensboro / January 3, 2020
Shutterstock/Maria Dryfhout

(TNS) — Need a part-time job to help pay off those holiday bills?

The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring hundreds of thousands of people nationwide to assist with the 2020 Census count. And, in Guilford County, it’s paying $16 an hour for census takers.

Want to apply?

The U.S. Census Bureau is taking applications online at 2020census.gov/jobs.

Eligible candidates must have a valid email account, access to a computer and basic computer skills.

Most jobs require access to a vehicle and a valid driver’s license, unless public transportation is readily available.

Every 10 years, the Census Bureau counts everyone who lives in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

But the march of technology makes this year’s count a bit different.

This year, residents are being asked to submit their information either by computer or by using their smartphone, although information will still be accepted by mail. Respondents can also call a toll-free number for assistance or to give their information to a call-center representative.

“For the first time in census history, the decennial census primary method to respond will be online,” spokeswoman Lindy Studds said in an email.

“Historically, residents would receive a paper questionnaire that they would complete and mail back in,” she said.

Required by the U.S. Constitution, census data is important. The statistics are used by local, state and federal lawmakers in determining how more than $675 billion in federal funds will be spent annually. That money pays for such things as roads and bridges, hospitals and health care clinics, emergency response services and education.

The census also is used to determine the number of seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives and provides data for redrawing legislative districts.

And, as the 2020 Census Operational Plan points out, census data is playing an increasingly important role in U.S. commerce and the economy.

Businesses are more often relying on the data to look at population-growth trends and income levels when making decisions about whether or where to locate restaurants or stores. Similarly, real estate investors look at the figures to measure the demand for housing and predict future needs.

From March 12 through 20, most households will receive a mailing asking them to respond online to the 2020 census. The questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to answer, according to the U.S. Census Bureau website.

For those who do not respond, census takers will go door-to-door beginning in May, Studds said. However, the Census Bureau plans to reduce these in-person visits by using data available from government administrative records and third-party sources. Such data, according to the census website, can be used to predict vacant households and determine the best time of day to visit a particular household.

For households that cannot be interviewed after multiple attempts, the census will count and provide characteristics for the people in the household using existing “high-quality data from trusted sources,” according to the 2020 Census Operational Plan.

Those sources include the 2010 census, U.S. postal service, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the American Community Survey that is conducted annually by the census.

Most fieldworkers also will use mobile devices for collecting the data, and optimal travel routes will be determined to increase productivity.

And what tech-savvy organization would miss out on social media opportunities? Census officials are using YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to encourage people to fill out the census, tailoring advertisements to specific audiences. And it’s also warning people to watch out for scams such as phishing emails, which often direct the recipient to a fake website that looks legitimate.

Census workers will not ask respondents for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers and will not ask for money or donations.

The agency has set up an email — rumors@census.gov — for people to report false rumors, as well.

Officials also are partnering with community organizations and businesses to spread the word about the importance of being counted in the census. Efforts include helping residents respond to the census at libraries and other community centers, and hosting events at community, recreation and faith-based organizations.

The 2020 Census data will be processed and sent to the president (for congressional apportionment) by Dec. 31, and to the states (for redistricting) by April 1, 2021. The public will be able to see the census results beginning in 2021.

©2020 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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