In booming economy, Census to pay more to attract workers

(Illinois News Network) – The Census is coming and the booming economy could create challenges for getting it done.

Conducting the U.S. Census requires workers – 500,000 in all. Those temporary employees need to be hired, trained and ready to go in the next two years. This creates a special challenge in today’s job market because there are as many job openings as there are applicants.

That means U.S Census Bureau recruiters will have to review about 2 million applications, the bureau estimates.

“I believe we’ve got some pretty strong plans to recruit that many people in this environment,” said Tim Olson, associate director for field operations.

The bureau will be conducting a nationwide media campaign to try and attract workers for the temporary positions. In a response to the tighter labor market, the bureau is also planning to offer higher pay.

“On one end of the spectrum, we’ll offer $13.50 an hour up to as high as $30 an hour based on where you live,” Olson said.

This is a stark contrast to the hiring process in 2010, when the recession sent the unemployment rate soaring to 9.8 percent in January of that year. That Census’ hiring process elicited nearly 4 million applicants.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4 percent in June.

The bureau is also going to be working with thousands of partner organizations to recruit bilingual applicants, something critical to properly documenting the nation’s non-English speaking population.

“Any county in the United States is going to have residents where they did not grow up speaking English,” Olson said.

The hiring process will begin in January with some jobs beginning in the fall, but the bulk of the temporary positions, Olson said, will be staffed later in 2020 when the Census seeks out non-respondents.

Olson said they’re now offering a new online application process that takes a matter of minutes, while the in-person application process used to take hours. Applicants will go through a background check.

Interested applicants can keep tabs on the openings by joining their employment mailing list.