Census Bureau looking for hundreds of workers in area

Michael Tortorich

The Census Bureau has started hiring for hundreds of canvassing jobs for next year’s national population count.

The first local office opened in Baton Rouge Monday, and launched its recruiting effort, according to U.S. Census Bureau media specialist Kimberly Murphy. The office will oversee early operations for 22 parishes, including Ascension.

The bureau has a jobs hotline set up at (866) 861-2010. Calling the toll-free number is the only way to apply for a census job.

Each regional office will hire about 1,200 temporary workers for the initial phase of the 2010 census, which includes office support staff and resident interviewers. Canvassing is expected to take eight to 10 weeks. Work is scheduled to start in late March, as the bureau will offer job positions in mid-February.

Canvassers can earn between $8 and $19.25 per hour, including training time, depending on experience and other factors.

Applicants are required to be at least 18 years old, be U.S. citizens and pass a background check.

They also must pass a test of map-reading, math and reading skills.

More Louisiana offices could open in the fall, with at least one in each of the state’s seven congressional districts. Those offices would have much smaller staffs.

The Dallas region includes the entire states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Some 75,000 workers will be needed during the region’s peak operations.

Once field representatives are sent out, there will be ways to properly identify them as legitimate.

According to the bureau’s Web site, census.gov, representatives must present an identification badge which has their photograph, Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.

They also should be able to provide supervisor contact information or the regional office contact number when asked, and provide a letter from the director of the Census Bureau. They may also have a laptop or bag with a Census Bureau logo.

Data collected are used for allocating more than $300 billion annually in federal funds to communities. It also determines representation in Congress.

“It is important that community members step up and take an active role in this vital count,” said Gabriel Sanchez, Dallas Regional Director. “An accurate count affects almost every decision in your community, from building new schools and hospitals, to improving roads.”

With participation of communities and local governments, it could be “the most accurate census in our nation’s history,” according to U.S. Census Bureau Director Steve Murdock.

The questionnaires for the 2010 Census will be some of the shortest in history, which dates back to the nation’s first census in 1790. The form will take about 10 minutes on average to complete, and answers are protected by law and strictly confidential.

The Baton Rouge office will be in charge of early operations for the southeastern region of Louisiana, including Ascension, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee, Washington, St. Tammany, Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Tangipahoa, Assumption, St. James, St. John, St. Charles, Livingston and St. Helena parishes.