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U.S. Census Bureau Needs Hundreds of Thousands of Workers

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Recruiting enough workers to fill the hundreds of thousands of temporary positions needed to take the 2020 Census won’t be easy, given the current economic climate, but the Census Bureau is more than up to the challenge.

For the decennial census, the Census Bureau will need a large and diverse workforce to follow up by phone or in person with households that do not respond to the questionnaire.

But, the lower the unemployment rate, the harder it can be to recruit.

Before hiring begins, the Census Bureau needs to assemble an applicant pool in the millions.

Before the 2010 Census, unemployment was at its highest levels since the early 1980s. It peaked at 10.0 percent in October 2009 and hovered between 9.3 and 9.8 percent throughout 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Today’s environment is much different, with the unemployment rate down to 4.0 percent as of June 2018.

Millions Of Applicants Needed

Census 2020 Logo

Before hiring begins, the Census Bureau needs to assemble an applicant pool in the millions. For example, to support the 2010 Census, it recruited approximately 3.9 million job applicants in 2009 and 2010.

Not only are fewer people looking for work, but the demographic makeup of the workforce has changed considerably, requiring different recruiting strategies.

The emphasis will be on competitive and attractive pay rates as well as an easy application process. It will take 30 minutes or less to apply online compared to an average two-hour application process in 2010. Job offers will be contingent upon applicants passing a background check (including fingerprinting).

Hiring Strategies

  • Developing partnerships with local organizations who can get the word out about census jobs. Recruiters will attend community meetings and other public events.
  • Encouraging media covering census events to mention 2020 Census jobs.
  • Utilizing social media, which has increased in popularity since the 2010 Census.
  • Issuing national and local news releases announcing census jobs, as well as distributing posters, flyers and other promotional materials.
  • Placing public service announcements, in addition to paid job advertising, in regional and local mainstream and ethnic media, including social media.
  • Setting up recruiting booths at public events — job fairs, county fairs, bazaars, tribal pow wows and other public events.

Bilingual Applicants Needed

In some areas the Census Bureau will need applicants who are fluent in English and other languages. Finding qualified applicants can be a challenge.

The Census Bureau will team up with partners in communities where individuals with the necessary language skills live to find the right people to fill bilingual positions.

There is no better resource about America’s neighborhoods than the people already living in them. Working in order to ensure a complete and accurate 2020 census, the Census Bureau must successfully recruit a knowledgeable and dynamic workforce in communities across the United States.

Applications are not being taken yet but if you are interested in applying, sign up for Census Jobs email updates.

Robert Bernstein is Team Lead, Stakeholder Relations Staff in the Census Bureau’s Decennial Communications Coordination Office.

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Page Last Revised - February 24, 2022
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