With the 2020 census just around the corner, the U.S. Census Bureau is hitting the ground running in Middle Tennessee, recruiting applicants for hundreds of jobs already becoming available as it prepares to count each county’s residents.

“We’ll be needing almost 300 workers just here in Lincoln County,” said Jerry Whitehead, recruiting assistant responsible for Lincoln, Franklin, Moore and Coffee counties, last week, explaining that full- and part-time jobs are available on flex schedules that can accommodate many people’s schedules. And some of those jobs can be done from home.

The first in a series of 2020 census job fairs will be held here in Fayetteville on Tuesday, June 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Central Human Resource Agency (SCHRA) located at 1437 Winchester Hwy.

“We’ll be there every Tuesday, beginning June 25, to recruit applicants from within Lincoln County,” Whitehead said. Hiring folks who are residents of the county serves two purposes. One, it allows the bureau to have people who know and can relate to the community, and two, it’s much easier to get information from someone who is a neighbor.

Computers will be available in the SCHRA lobby, along with assistance, to help folks apply – “You only have to be 18 or older, have a valid Social Security number, and be a U.S. citizen, and we’re encouraging seniors to apply,” said the local recruiter, adding that pay begins in the $14 an hour range and up.

Job details and information about the application process is also available at 2020census.gov/jobs.

Out of the Shelbyville census office, which is currently responsible for the State of Tennessee as well as Western Kentucky, the bureau is hiring 1,500 workers, Whitehead said, noting that the need for clerks, with a pay range of $16 an hour, is desperate. The only drawback on those jobs for folks here is that they would need to commute to Shelbyville.


Why it matters

Chris Conklin, partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau in Middle Tennessee, spoke to the Lincoln County Commission during its May meeting, saying the census has some very significant financial impacts on communities like Lincoln County.

“More than $675 billion comes into the state in federal grants and federal funding each year,” he said. “We have some studies that show the cost to the state and local governments is about $1,091 per person who doesn’t complete the census. If you extrapolate that out by one percent, you’re looking at roughly $70 million per year that the state and local governments could miss out on.”

Additionally, the census helps with planning, said Conklin, noting that it is the “gold standard” as communities and businesses look to their future and anticipate trends in areas of growth.


Responding online

For the first time, you’ll be able to complete the census form online this next year.

“In 2020, we’re doing a number of new things. For the very first time, you have the opportunity to go online and complete your census, either by your smartphone, tablet or computer,” he said.

Residents who receive the census mailer will have a unique code to fill out the questions online if they choose. They can still use the bureau’s 1-800 number or complete the traditional census form, too.

Workers currently being sought are key in confirming that listed addresses actually exist before mailers are sent out in March of next year. As part of that early process of canvassing, census workers will be in neighborhoods taking pictures, geocoding addresses. Once the initial census data is collected from households that voluntarily respond to mailers, workers will head out to the field to knock on doors of those who haven’t responded.

The completed U.S. census report must be on President Donald Trump’s desk by Dec. 31, 2020. That means counting more than 330 million over the course of several months.

Through the end of this year, the Census Bureau is working to educate people about what to expect next year and spreading the word that the census is safe, and the information gathered confidential. The Census Bureau is strictly prohibited from divulging any personal information to outside parties, including other government agencies.

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