By Midge Pierce
If you’re looking for a flexible, well-paying, part-time job that benefits your community, you may be in luck. The search for 2020 census workers is on.
With millions in funds for education, roads, hospitals, infrastructure and a likely sixth Congressional seat at stake, recruiters are in the midst of an intensive push to hire temporary workers to get an accurate count of Oregon residents.
In the 2010 census, one in five Portlanders may have gone uncounted, depriving communities of federal dollars for which they qualified. To avoid another undercount, thousands more temporary workers are needed by mid-month to fill the 10,000 positions for field and support work.
Recruiter Robin Shallcross emphasized the importance of accuracy in determining US House representation and distribution of entitled funds. She says census work is safe and secure, typically conducted in residents’ own neighborhoods – perfect she says for retirees with free time, home-based workers and those in the “gig economy” who would like more hours.
Neither working for the survey nor taking it will affect eligibility for government benefits such as food and housing assistance.
Achieving accurate counts is challenging. A proposal, which ultimately failed, to add a citizenship question to the census has left lingering fear in immigrant communities that they would face exposure and potential expulsion from the country by responding.
Some Oregonians may lack permanent addresses or live in mobile homes, transiting between locales. Marginalized residents may not realize their government benefits will not be affected by completing the survey.
Language is another major obstacle. The census has identified a need, especially in East and SE Portland, for Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian-speaking Census workers.
Portland recruiters are working with community partners to reach hard-to-count people. Houseless people will be counted in shelters, day care centers or campsites. This year’s survey includes a box for those without an address to fill.
“Everyone counts,” says Shallcross. “Census workers should feel good about ensuring accuracy that helps direct resources where they are most needed.”
Surveys will arrive through the mail in March with instructions to respond electronically or by phone. April first is National Count Day, the target date for determining where extra census-taking efforts should be directed (most likely to households with little technology access and communications connectivity).
Recruiting is underway at foodbanks, job fairs and even high schools. Anyone over 18 can be a census taker, providing they have computer access as applications are only being accepted online at 2020census.gov/jobs.
Applicants can call 1.855.JOB.2020 or use the Federal Relay Service at 1.800.877.8339 to learn more or for assistance.