May 20th, 2009 | Posted in Population Basics
by Mark Mather, associate vice president, Domestic Programs
With the 2010 Census right around the corner, the Census Bureau is gearing up for one of the biggest hiring frenzies the United States has ever seen. Between 2009 and 2010, the Census Bureau hopes to hire 1.4 million temporary workers to help conduct census operations.
Let’s put those 1.4 million workers into perspective:
The 1790 Census was conducted by 16 U.S. Marshals on horseback and their 650 assistants. (Today, most census enumerators must have a valid driver’s license and use of a car.)
By April 2010, there will be about 130 million households in the United States. That means there will be more than one census worker for every 100 U.S. households.
If all of the new census employees were drawn from the current ranks of the unemployed, the unemployment rate in would drop from 8.9 percent to 8.0 percent, almost a full percentage point.
Maine’s total population, according to the latest census estimates, is around 1.3 million.
Photo used under Creative Commons from adria.richards.
Why are so many workers needed? Census 2010 is being billed as the “largest peacetime operation” ever conducted by the U.S. federal government. This spring, the Census Bureau hired 140,000 workers to help update more than 145 million addresses in the Census Bureau’s database. We recently spied one of these workers in Dupont Circle, the DC neighborhood where PRB’s offices are located. She wore a census badge and was entering data into a handheld computer.
However, most of the census workers will be hired in early 2010. Their main job is to interview—by phone or in person—people who fail to fill out and return their questionnaires. “Nonrespondent” households present a serious and growing problem for the Census Bureau. There were 42 million nonrespondent households in 2000 and more are expected in 2010, including many immigrants and others who fear and/or distrust the federal government.
Counting the U.S. population is not an easy job. But it is a critically important one. The federal government uses decennial census data to apportion congressional seats, draw state and local legislative districts, and to allocate billions of federal funds to states and local communities. Private organizations, such as PRB, use decennial census information to look at long-term demographic trends and to compare important population subgroups across states and local areas.
So we hope you will apply for the job. In the process, you might learn some interesting facts about your own community. For information about how to become a census taker in 2010, visit the Census Bureau’s website . For more information about the 2010 Census and why it’s important, visit PRB’s website.