Census Bureau Counting On Volunteers

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Several years ago, Iowan Kelly Campbell found himself in a classic good news-bad news situation. The good news: Through her work, his wife had earned a free vacation. The bad news: Campbell wasn’t sure they had extra funds for the additional expenses they might accrue on their trip.

In hopes of earning some extra cash, Campbell, who was a stay-home dad, applied for a temporary job with the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau was ramping up for its 2000 count and needed thousands of “enumerators” nationwide. Paid training, a flexible schedule and great pay appealed to Campbell. The experience was so positive that he stayed with the bureau and today works with them as a partnership specialist.

“It’s an excellent opportunity,” Campbell said. “You get to do something that supports your community in a very real way, and you get paid to do it.” A Census Bureau representative will be recruiting workers at the Elkader Public Library Friday, February 7, from 9:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Campbell said about 100 people are needed for Clayton County. “There are a few requirements,” he said. “For example, you must be 18 years of age when you start working. In that way, it makes a great part-time job for students.”

Applicants also need a valid Social Security number and email address. They must also have access to a reliable vehicle and have a valid driver’s license.

“We’d like workers to commit to at least 20 hours a week with no more than eight hours a day,” he said. “People will be able to set their own schedules but there is a start and end date to the count.” Workers are paid weekly. Compensation is $17.50 an hour plus mileage of $.575 per mile.

The primary task of census workers is to make sure that people who don’t fill out a form themselves by mail, phone or online get counted. That’s accomplished by going door-to-door to collect the information. The overall effort is labor intensive and costly. The bureau has estimated it will spend more than $15.6 billion on interviews. But the visits are worth it because they help the agency ensure that as many residents in the U.S. as possible are counted. That number, in turn, is used to make many population-based decisions.


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