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Stand up and be counted

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Census Bureau kicks off count with celebration, job information

By The Staff

Local residents are needed to help with the final phase of the 2010 Census count.

At the grand opening of the Covington Census Office Dec. 4, manager Chad Linna said he and his staff have begun recruiting enumerators and field supervisors in each of the 18 counties in the Northern Kentucky region his office serves.

The Covington office is overseeing completion of the 2010 Census in Trimble, Carroll, Henry, Owen, Oldham and Gallatin counties, as well as Grant, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Franklin, Harrison, Kenton, Mason, Pendleton, Robertson, Scott and Shelby counties.

Linna said census workers will gear up in February to prepare for the nonresident census counts in institutions such as residential college campuses and prisons. In mid-March, the census questionnaire will be mailed out to residences nationwide to residential addresses that census workers have been working to validate for the past two years.

From April through July, the Census Bureau will keep track of which residences do not return completed questionnaires. Local enumerators will be responsible for going door to door to help residents complete the forms and collect them for the count.

Linna said his office plans to hire 1,200 enumerators and field supervisors, with the number of staff hired in each county based on its population density. “We have to hire people in every community, so we’ll literally hire from everywhere.”

Hiring local people to work for the census generally is the best way to make sure the questionnaires are completed. “It’s likely (enumerators) will know the people they will be helping,” Linna said.

The positions are all part-time and the number of hours worked will vary, based on the number of census forms that remain outstanding in each area, Linna said. “An enumerator may work anywhere from two weeks to five months.”

Pay starts at $13 per hour plus mileage at the federal government reimbursement rate, which was set at 55 cents per mile for 2009. That amount is recalculated quarterly based on gasoline prices, Linna said, and mileage is tax-free.

Anyone wishing to apply for a job with the Census Bureau may call (866) 861-2010.

Why the census is important

The U.S. Constitution mandates a count of all residents every 10 years. Since the first census in 1790, the population count has been used to determine how many seats are delegated to each voting district in each state in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Additionally, the population information is used to determine the distribution of as much as $400 billion in federal funds awarded to states and communities annually, Linna said.

The census is vital because the population of the United States is growing five times faster than any other industrialized country, Linna said. Additionally, the census tries to keep up with the millions of Americans who relocate from one area of the country to another in between census years.

“Congressional representation depends on the census … and local communities, social services and infrastructure all rely on your participation in the census, to get their fair share of those funds,” he said.

In March, each household will receive in the mail one census. The streamlined questionnaire should only “take 10 minutes or less for the average American to complete,” Linna said.

There are 10 questions for the head of each household to answer. The head of household is the person who owns or rents the residence – whether it’s a home, apartment or mobile home.

The first two questions are intended to establish how many people live in the household (as of Census Day, April 1, 2010), with the exception of college students, military personnel who are deployed, residents who may be in a nursing home, or those who are in jail, prison or a detention facility.

The rest of the questions ask for the head of household’s full names, gender, date of birth and age (as of April 1), if they are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin, and their race. The census does not count Hispanic origin as a “race.”

The form also includes a similar set of questions for any other individuals also living in the residence, who also are asked to indicate their relationship to the head of household.

More detailed information, including household income, employment and military service, is collected in the annual American Community Survey, which is conducted in every U.S. county and in Puerto Rico. The survey collects information from a sample of addresses from each county; it does not require questionnaires from every resident, as the 2010 census does. An address may only be sampled in the survey once every five years. Information from the survey is available online at American FactFinder, www.census.gov.

Census information confidential

All information collected during the U.S. Census is confidential, and is held confidential for 72 years. For example, personal information from the 1940 census will not be released to the public until 2012.

By federal law, information provided by individuals during the 10-year count or the annual community surveys may be used by the Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. It cannot publish or release information that would identify any individual.

All Census Bureau employees are required to swear under oath to keep all information collected about individuals or businesses confidential.

Additionally,  census data is not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, and it cannot be used as evidence in a court of law. No one can obtain personal identifiable information from the Census Bureau.