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The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring: 5 things potential job applicants should know

The U.S. Census Bureau hired more than 600,000 temporary workers for the 2010 census.
U.S. Census Bureau
A 2010 Census outreach event in July of 2010. New Census data will be released tomorrow which could result in fewer legislative seats for Missouri and Illinois. (Flickr Creative Commons User jennaddenda)

The U.S. Census Bureau officially announced its recruiting drive for the 2020 census on Monday. The bureau may face challenges finding enough qualified candidates to fill thousands of openings, including positions in Missouri and Illinois.

There is concern that there won’t be enough people looking to work on the census. In July, the U.S. Census Bureau published a blog post that sounded the alarm about the pool of candidates for 2020 jobs. Officials worry that the current low unemployment rate, around 4 percent, means the bureau won’t get the millions of applications it needs to fill the temporary positions.

“Not only are fewer people looking for work, but the demographic makeup of the workforce has changed considerably, requiring different recruiting strategies,” wrote Robert Bernstein in the blog post.

Ahead of the 2010 count, the U.S. Census Bureau took in about 4 million applications to hire more 600,000 workers. Officials say they need at least as many workers for the 2020 census. Hundreds of temporary workers will be needed in Missouri and Illinois.

With the recruiting process officially open, here are five things to know about the 2020 census jobs:

1. Pay: One of the strategies to attract more workers is to offer “competitive and attractive pay rates,” Bernstein wrote. For example, in the St. Louis region on the Missouri side of the stateline, a census taker will earn $19.50 (minimum wage in Missouri is $7.85 an hour). The pay across in Illinois is slightly less: $19.00 an hour (minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 an hour). Census takers also get reimbursed for work-related mileage and expenses.

2. Application: Another strategy for attracting potential candidates is to make the application process faster. The bureau says completing an application for the 2010 census jobs took about two hours. This time around, officials say it should take about 30 minutes.

3. Basic Qualifications: To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number and be a U.S. citizen.

4. Bilingual workers: The census bureau is concerned about its ability to recruit bilingual workers. Recruiters are looking for people who are fluent in English and at least one other language.

5. Kinds of jobs: The bureau is hiring census takers and field supervisors as well as recruiting assistants, office operations supervisors and clerks.

Holly Edgell is lead editor for Sharing America, a collaborative covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This new initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Hartford, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Portland, Oregon. Follow Holly on Twitter @hollyedgell.

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