Now hiring: Census workers

  • Courtesy Photo/U.S. Census Bureau

HILO — Looking for a job that’ll take you to new locations where you meet new people every day and make $20 an hour or more? With the start of a new decade, the U.S. Census Bureau is hiring.

“Right now, we are looking to fill hundreds, if not thousands of positions on all the islands, actually. They’re temporary positions,” said Samuel Resendez, a partnership specialist with the Census Bureau. “We’ve ramped up our recruiting for positions such as address canvassing, enumerators, address listers and Census takers. So right now we’re hiring for workers that will work through 2020 possibly up to September. We’ve opened up an area Census office on Oahu and we have a recruiting assistant here on the Big Island.”

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As for the numbers need in Hawaii Island, Resendez replied, “That number is possibly in the hundreds because, of course, on the Big Island, we have so many different districts and it’s the biggest island of all.”

According to the 2020census.gov website, those hired as Census takers in Hawaii County will earn $20 an hour, plus reimbursement for work-related mileage and expenses, where applicable.

“You have to be a U.S. citizen, 18 or older,” said Resendez. “You have to pass a background check and fingerprint check. You also have to have a valid Social Security number. We need boots on the ground We’re looking for people that want to get out and do good for the community, bring funds to the community, who are active in engaging community leaders and know the importance and the value of what the Census means and how it helps. We’re looking for people willing to put in hard work and long hours. And they’re going to get rewarded for it.

“For many of the jobs, you will need a driver’s license and a vehicle unless public transportation is readily available. You’ll also need access to the internet and an email account to complete the training.”

All who are hired will receive training, and some will be required to travel to Honolulu to be trained, he said. And, as noted, some of the training can be done online, at home.

There is also a need for Census takers who are bi-lingual and multi-lingual due to the many languages spoken in Hawaii, Resendez said.

“The Census (form) will be printed in various languages,” he explained. “I can’t remember the number of the top of my head, but it’s going to be published in English, Spanish, Japanese, Tagalog, Marshallese, Chuukese and more. We are taking into account all of the languages that are spoken here in the islands.”

Resendez said while working for the Census Bureau is a rewarding job, it’s one with special challenges.

“I think the challenge is the rural nature of where people live and how they live,” he said. “From the last count in 2010, a lot has happened. We had (Tropical Storm Iselle). We’ve had the lava and a lot of people displaced. I think that’s the biggest challenge, reaching the hard-to-count places and the displaced. People have moved from areas such as Leilani Estates to various other subdivisions. We also have a lot of new incoming people here. It’s a challenge to get an accurate count. But that’s why we’re recruiting people who want to make a difference in the community and are willing to go to the subdivisions, knock on doors and get the perfect count for our community.

“On our Census.gov website, we have what we call ‘low-response places’ that we base on our 2010 Census. Unfortunately, in 2010 we did have a low response on Hawaii Island, so we’ve highlighted a lot of places, definitely some places in lower Puna and the Pahala, Ka‘u area — those places have low responses. So we’re definitely going to work to get Census workers out there, to get those communities to know why we ask the questions that we ask and how the Census is going to benefit them. It’s a challenging task, but I think we are up for it.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in June blocked a Trump administration initiative to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form.

“We’re not looking at if people are here legally or illegally. We want everyone here counted, regardless,” Resendez said. “This isn’t about who’s here illegally. This is about painting a portrait of our nation. That’s what the Census is about — getting an accurate count of who’s living in the United States and disseminating that data. We have sworn an oath of confidentiality. We disseminate statistics, but we don’t give out names, addresses or turn people in.

“All Census workers follow strict guidelines and confidentiality laws. We take a strict oath to protect the confidentiality of the data we see and use and our work has to be accurate and efficient.”

For more information about job opportunities with the U.S. Census, visit https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.

Many will receive Census forms in the mail and filling them in will eliminate the need for a Census taker to manually canvass that household. The law requires Census forms to be filled in and returned, although some would prefer to not do so. Resendez said it’s vital the forms be filled out accurately and returned, regardless of how one feels about being questioned by the government.

“In any place, there may be a mistrust of the government. That’s why we focus on educating and informing,” he said. “Whether you trust the government or not, we all use services of the government, such as the roads, the hospitals, the schools, programs that feed the needy. As far as the Census goes, yes, we are a part of the government, but all we want is an accurate count and it’s important to get an accurate count so communities can get their fair share of government funding for services we all need.”

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For more information about job opportunities with the U.S. Census, visit https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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