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County gets ready for 2010 Census

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By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

Sun Staff Writer

With holiday bills coming in and some people looking to just put food on the table or clothes on their backs, the timing couldn't be more perfect for the U.S. Census Bureau to begin recruiting employees for the 2010 census. Potential employees from Washington County, as well as surrounding counties, have been among the hopefuls who have recently completed a testing process aimed at hiring census workers.

Phyllis Daugherty, from Raywick in Marion County, took the test once, but returned to the Opera House in Springfield to try to improve her score.

“The first test went well, but I would like to have a better score,” she said. “The practice test that was offered helped big time, but I think I was nervous during the first test. It was just the pressure of taking a test after being out of school for a long time.”

Daughtery added that she hopes the job with the Census will provide a source of income since both she and her husband found themselves out of work.

“My husband's drywall company went down about a year ago, and then my business went down,” she added. “I taught continuing education classes for cosmetologists in Kentucky. That job was replaced by a computer. Cosmetologists all over the state can take their tests online now. So we're just looking for some extra money.”

The 30-minute test consists of 28 multiple-choice questions and is divided into five sections; clerical skills, reading skills, number skills, interpreting information and evaluating alternative, and organizational skills.

“It's just a basic skills test with a basic knowledge of English and math,” said Racheal Hampton, a local census office manager based in Lexington. “A sample test is on our website at www.census.gov. We don't allow you to use calculators, but we will provide a scrap piece of paper and a pencil.”

Hampton covers a 14-county region around the Lexington area.

Among the qualifications to be a census worker are the requirement to be age 18 or over and have a valid government-issued ID, social security card, passport or birth certificate.

The Census has a few different positions available; census takers (also called enumerators), crew leaders, crew leader assistants, recruiting assistants and census clerks. Census workers in Washington County will be paid between $13.75 and $17.25 per hour plus mileage, which is currently 55 cents per mile.

Back in the spring, the Census conducted address canvasing, adding every residence into their database. Once the census gets under way in April 2010, survey forms will be sent to every residence in the county.

“This time we have a short form,” Hampton added. “There are about 10 questions and it will take about 10 minutes to complete.

Once the deadline to complete and return the census forms has passed, that is when enumerators will hit the streets in mid to late April, according to Hampton.

“The enumerators will be going door-to-door looking for those people who didn't turn in their questionnaire That's why it's important for everyone to return their form, because we need that information,” she added.

Every official census worker will have proper identification available.

“Each census worker will have a badge with the Department of Commerce seal on it along with their name. If there are any doubts, ask to see their ID and make sure it matches their badge. Official census workers will also carry U.S. Census tote bags. At any point, you can call the local census office and we can verify that they are an employee.”

This will be the 23rd Census conducted by the federal government. The first United States Census took place in 1790 and counted 3.9 million citizens. While the federal government uses census data for many purposes, businesses, students, and many others also use census data for market research and to track trends. Over $400 billion of federal funds are distributed to each state every year based on the population data attained by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hampton said that there is plenty of time of people to take the test to see if they have what it takes to work for the Census, however space is limited based on the amount of workers needed. She added that after all of the hiring is complete in her 14-county region, the Census will employ between 1,200 to 1,500 people.

“We're scheduled to continue testing until June,” she said. “We're offering tests all over our region and they can call us to set up an appointment. Of course, it depends on the numbers. If we reach our goal early, then we'll stop recruiting, but for now it's scheduled out until June.”

Hampton assures the public that the Census is completely anonymous and all information gathered is confidential.

She added, “We're all sworn in for life for confidentiality, so everything is safe.”

For more information about census testing, please call 1-866-861-2010.