The folks who count residents of the United States every 10 years have good news for job-starved people in Hernando and Pasco counties.
The U.S. Census Bureau needs to fill as many as 1,000 temporary positions in the next couple of months, and it wants people from all corners of the two counties to apply. Full-time and part-time positions are available.
Jobs will range from office positions to field workers as the 2010 census gets into full swing during the first quarter of the year.
In October, Census Bureau employees opened a regional office at 16228 Spring Hill Drive, south of Brooksville. Recruiting for the many available jobs has been task No. 1 because there is so much that needs to be done.
"Our deal is that everybody needs to be counted, and we will do whatever it takes to make that happen,'' said Albert Ambs, the local census office manager.
"Our intent is to hire people in the neighborhoods in which they will work,'' Ambs said. That way, if they are knocking on doors seeking census information, "they're talking to their neighbors,'' he said.
Settling on the exact number of people needed is difficult because the number of people necessary for door-to-door calls will depend on how many people return the census forms that will be mailed out in March. April 1 is the official census day.
Ambs' hope is to get a pool of applicants far larger than the 1,000 positions that he might need to fill so that there are enough qualified people across Hernando and Pasco to get various tasks done.
Because the goal is to count every person, each census office needs workers to canvass neighborhoods, visit soup kitchens where homeless individuals can be identified and go to nursing homes and wherever else people might be staying.
In this area, an extra challenge is tracking the snowbirds who leave Florida before their census forms arrived, Ambs said. The local office has to keep checking on those people until it can be determined that they have filled out a form, wherever their other home is.
Those applying for census jobs will have to take a 30-minute test that measures basic clerical, math and reading skills. The tests are offered throughout Hernando and Pasco counties at various locations each week.
Pay for the jobs that will report to the Brooksville office ranges from $8.50 to $14 an hour, and those who must travel as part of their job will also receive the standard federal reimbursement of 55 cents per mile. Training is also paid.
Jobs will last anywhere from three or four weeks to six or eight months. More details about the 2010 census jobs and a sample of the test can be found at www.2010censusjobs.gov.
A census, mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has been taken every 10 years since 1790. Information gathered from the population is used to produce statistical data, for congressional redistricting and to fairly distribute federal funding, ranging from education dollars to road improvement funds.
Details about individuals' lives collected through the census are kept private — including from law enforcement, the White House, the Internal Revenue Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ambs said. Those details are released only after 72 years, and at that point the information is usually used to track family trees, he said.
Ambs said census officials want to emphasize the efforts to keep information private because it is important that everyone take part in the census.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.