Census needs ND workers, especially in rural areas

Census workers needed in rural areas

Source: N.D. State Census Office

Census workers still are needed in some areas of North Dakota as the federal government prepares to fill about 1,200 jobs in the state before the 2020 count begins.

The Census Bureau bumped up wages from $17 an hour in western North Dakota to $21 an hour and from $15.50 an hour in eastern North Dakota to $18 an hour to try to entice people to apply. The wage hike has helped, said Kevin Iverson, manager of the North Dakota State Census Office, Bismarck.

“They were well behind where they needed to be in North Dakota. The good news is they are catching up,” he said. “The good news is people are beginning to respond. It is getting people’s attention.

The need for workers continues to be unmet in the more rural counties, he said. Among areas listed as having hiring issues as of Dec. 10 were Burke County and Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

“Just because you choose not to respond to the census does not mean you don’t get included in the census. Somebody eventually comes knocking on your door to gather your information from you,” Iverson said. “So, if we want everybody counted, someone’s got to do that work and they’ve got to do it in every corner at every residence in the state of North Dakota. So it’s just absolutely critical that they meet those manpower missions.”

He noted 26% of households failed to respond to the initial forms delivered in 2010, requiring census workers to make house calls.

This past August to October, during the of address canvassing process that precedes the census, the Census Bureau brought in 10 workers from New York to assist about 80 local workers in North Dakota. The preferred option for the actual count stage of the census is to have local workers who are familiar with an area and have a stake in getting a complete count for their communities. Local workers also exude an element of trust that results in more people participating in the count, Iverson said.

He said the Census Bureau is convinced it missed counting some North Dakotans 10 years ago.

“For instance, we know that American Indians on reservations were under-counted in 2010. We also know nationwide there are up to 2 million children that were missed because, for whatever reason, people simply did not report them,” he said. “So the better we can do in terms of rapport of that individual that ends up knocking on that door, the better off we’re going to be.”

Census jobs are part-time with highly flexible hours. Workers must be able to legally drive, pass a background check and be willing to abide by confidentiality requirements regarding census information.

They will receive training before beginning work, which will be most active from May through July. However, workers also will deliver census forms in March to houses of residents who receive their mail at post office boxes.

For someone already employed, a census job can be an opportunity to earn extra money, or for someone who is retired or engaged in seasonal work, it can be an opportunity to stay busy while aiding the community.

Information and applications are available at 2020census.gov.

Iverson said hiring is expected to continue through January and possibly into early February, if necessary.


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