Census workers hard to find in Western N.D.Census workers are becoming harder to find, one United States Census Bureau official said. The U.S. Census Bureau requires the state of North Dakota to have approximately 3,600 people in its applicant pool by the first week in April in order to have enough workers to help complete the 2010 census.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
Census workers are becoming harder to find, one United States Census Bureau official said.
The U.S. Census Bureau requires North Dakota to have approximately 3,600 people in its applicant pool by the first week in April in order to have enough workers to help complete the 2010 census.
“There is trouble finding workers, pretty much throughout the state,” said Jodi Leidholm, local census office manager for the Bismarck office. “We have very good recruiters doing the best that they possibly can and we’re not pulling in the numbers we need.”
Leidholm said she has noticed recruiting has become especially difficult in the western part of the state.
“I think it’s simply because of the low unemployment rate, and I also contribute it to the oil boom,” Leidholm said. “In the long run I can see we are going to have difficulty meeting out goals in the western part of the state.”
The difficult areas in the western area to recruit, Leidholm said, range from around Mountrail County, down.
Wages for census workers, which begin at $11 an hour for field employees, are competitive, Leidholm believes, but can’t compete with many of the oil workers wages.
Field employees for the census work hourly, ranging from $11 to $14 an hour.
A recent story released by the Associated Press noted Minnesota would require 1,000 workers, but was also experiencing trouble finding applicants.
Employees are also paid for the training they must complete before work begins and reimbursed for their mileage.
“We definitely need to hire people from every corner of North Dakota,” Leidholm said. “It’s just not feasible to have somebody from Zap go over to Dickinson to canvass or vice-versa, because the mileage would put us over budget.”
For address canvassing, Leidholm said the bureau will be hiring up to 1,000 workers to cover the state, using hand-held devices.
“It may sound intimidating because it’s a little computer with a GPS system,” Leidholm said. “But you get extensive training and we’ll walk everyone through it to make sure it’s comfortable for them.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau Web site, all potential census employees must also complete a test of 28 multiple-choice questions. The test measures basic skills such as reading, number skills and evaluating information.
Leidholm said she feels many people don’t realize the importance of the census data.
“The census data determines how over $300 billion is allocated to states and communities each year,” Leidholm said. “The worst thing that could happen is that a community would be undercounted and they would lose about a $1,000 per person per year so that’s a substantial amount of money.
“Not only do we want people (to work), but good people so we can ensure that we get an accurate count,” she added.”
The bottom line, Leidholm said, is the census is very important to the state as well as the nation.
“This is mandated by the constitution of the United States,” Leidholm said. “A count has to be taken, we’ll figure out some way to find people to canvass our area.”
North Dakota current has one Census Bureau office, located in Bismarck and is planning on opening another office in Fargo in October.