Make a difference (and some dough) as a census taker

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

The decennial census is just around the corner, and it will take an army of workers to count every head in the nation. You can play a part and earn some green by enlisting in this army.


The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every 10 years. This data is used to determine how many seats each state has in the House of Representatives. Thomas Jefferson headed up the first census, conducted in 1790 during George Washington’s presidency. The population at the time was 3,929,625, and Congress used the results to apportion 105 seats among 15 states.

Today’s census impacts more than our representation.

“Counting everyone increases the amount of federal funding that comes back to each community,” says Kimberly Smith, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census. “It impacts the quality of life in the community for the next 10 years.”

The data gathered in 2020 will determine how $675 billion in federal funds are spent on things like roads, schools and hospitals. It’s a major undertaking, and jobs are available now for those who would like to pitch in. It’s a pretty good gig – the pay for our area is $15.50 per hour and 58 cents per mile driven. Census takers choose their own hours, either part-time or full-time, and training is also paid.

There are several phases to the census operation through the summer of 2020, but field workers are needed now to update local maps.

“We need to know where the houses are. You don’t even have to talk to people,” Smith says.

Residents can expect to receive invitations to complete census forms March 12-26, 2020. There will be an option to fill out the form online. During a later phase, census workers will knock on the doors of residents who haven’t responded.

The goal is for everyone to be counted once and in the right place, Smith says. College students or other people living away from family should be counted where they are living at the time of the census.

For more information about becoming a census taker or to apply online, visit 2020census.gov/jobs. Info is also available by phone at 1-855-JOB-2020. Employees must be at least 18 and have a valid social security number and email address. Most jobs require access to a vehicle and a driver’s license. A computer with internet access is required for training.

Being a census worker is a safe, easy job that provides important information, says Smith.

“This is a great opportunity because it’s taking part in something that will have a 10-year impact on your area. It’s local people improving their own community.”

Wendy Smith coordinates marketing and public relations for the town of Farragut.

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