By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
As National Census Day fast approaches, the U.S. Census Bureau is stepping up its efforts to recruit local residents as official takers to work on the 2010 count.
The census is a huge undertaking that provides temporary employment opportunities for the residents of Kansas interested in working on the project.
Jobs offer good pay, flexible hours and paid training while performing an important public service, and those hired will most likely get to work in their own communities.
All census takers must be able to speak English, but there is a need for bilingual speakers also.
The U.S. Census Bureau is in the process of hiring about 4,000 temporary workers in the state of Kansas from now until July 2010. Eloy Gallegos of the Dodge City office said officials are likewise looking for people to help in Southwest Kansas, but as to how many people are needed, that depends on population.
“The larger the population, the more people we’re going to need,” he said. “We are trying to recruit, and we are still recruiting individuals to work with us out here in Southwest Kansas. With pretty much all the counties, we’re still needing to recruit.”
Gallegos said many individuals are not aware that the jobs are temporary.
“We have jobs available,” he said. “They are full-time or part-time temporary jobs. If someone wants to work in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening or even on weekends, we work around people’s schedules.”
Interested individuals should call 1-866-861-2010 to find out how and where to apply for a job with the 2010 Census. Gallegos said training takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half.
“They get put into our pool,” he said. “Once our full operations are in effect, we start calling these individuals for these part-time and full-time positions.”
Gallegos said people can work anywhere from eight to 40 hours a week and can make from $9.50 to $13 an hour depending on the area and position where a person works.
He said census officials are looking to recruit everywhere, including schools and faith-based organizations, and he said efforts will be made next week in Southwest Kansas.
“We’re going to be having anywhere from about seven to 15 individuals,” he said. “We’re going to be going city to city, going down each Main Street in each city in Southwest Kansas not only in regards to recruitment, but also getting information about the importance of being counted.”
Gallegos emphasized the importance of having an accurate count.
“It affects their school district,” he said. “It affects their health departments. If there’s any construction going on within their county, it affects that. It affects a lot of jobs as well.”
Gallegos said the Census Bureau wants to make sure there are enough workers to fulfill its operation. He added the census not only brings jobs, but money to a community.
“Right now, that’s what we’re all wanting to do,” he said. “If we are have more money in our southwest economy, that means more money getting spent at our businesses, money for our schools.”
Gallegos said all forms will be sent by mail, except for those who have a rural route or a post office box address.
“If you have a physical address, they will be going to your house via mail,” he said. “With rural routes, we will be having an individual go to each household to verify that it is a household and there are people living in that household and leaving a form for them to return. April 1 is Census Day.”
Census Day is April 1, and Gallegos said if forms are not received back by April 5, a second will be sent.
“If they don’t send in that second form by April 15, we will be having individual census workers go to each of these households which we didn’t receive a form from and get the information from them at that moment,” he said.
Gallegos said this is what the Census Bureau is trying to avoid.
“We’re trying to be as less intrusive as possible,” he said. “We understand that individuals are catering to their everyday needs, their family needs. I want everyone to spend 10 minutes to take the 10 questions that’s on the form and send it in. That’s all we’re asking – 10 minutes, 10 questions for 2010.”
Gallegos said rural routes are already receiving forms by hand, and by April 20, every household will be receiving them by mail.