Census Bureau swamped with applicants

Need a job? Know how to count? The U.S. Census Bureau needs you.

Areas around the country are reporting that after begging for applicants at the last census in 2000, for this year's count they're seeing the most applicants they've ever seen.

Samantha O'Neil, a Census spokeswoman, told WalletPop that the bureau's Web site has been "swamped with interested people" as has its road tour events. Nationally the census is looking to fill 1.17 million jobs in fiscal 2010.

But things aren't going so well in Ottawa County, Ohio, however, according to a WTOL report:




That's strange, because Ohio has statewide unemployment of 10.9% with more than 640,000 people out of work. So you'd think there'd be plenty of people willing to take the census taker jobs that pay $12.25 to $16 an hour in Ohio.

The pay varies by job duties, with the lower range for office clerks and more for supervisors and workers who knock on doors to interview people. An interactive Census Bureau map shows how much cities pay after clicking on a state.

A few things that may send some applicants away: These are temporary jobs that can last a few months to two years, although most will last a few months. The jobs don't include benefits, such as vacation pay or health care.

Some people may also think that the temporary work will end their unemployment benefits. It won't hurt their jobless benefits, but will only extend them and the amount earned will be subtracted from an unemployment check.

Benefits vary by state. I live in California, which has 12.4% unemployment, and when I was first laid off I had 12 months to collect up to six worth of unemployment benefits. Any money I earned for work I did during that time was subtracted from my state check, and the time allotted to collect the benefits was extended by however long I was working.

People who get food stamps or housing assistance can work for the census without giving up that public assistance because agreements are in place with those services and the Census Bureau.

I've applied for a few census jobs and have never gotten a callback. I know I did well on the test because the tester gave us our results immediately. I might not have gotten hired because I didn't speak more than one language, and I'm sure bilingual speakers were in high demand. I also wasn't available to work nights because I'm home taking care of my daughter then, so that cut back on my availability.

But jobs for the 2010 census, which got underway Monday in Alaska, are catching on across the country:

Northern California has seen 50,000 people apply for 20,000 jobs, among them people who have been out of work for months and are using the census job as good resume experience that they hope will lead to a full time job elsewhere.

Other than a temporary paycheck, a census job is a smart way to fill up a resume. A future employer will never have to wonder if you can count.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be found at
www.AaronCrowe.net

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