Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm counting on you

You know what we haven't done in a while?

Counted everyone.

I heard on the radio that they are beginning the process of hiring people for the census.

I worked for the census in 2000.

So I thought I'd share a little with you about the census and the people who work there.

The census happens in a couple phases. In the first phase, they hire the best of the applicants to set up the office, then they hire the next best to sort and mail everyone a form. Some people get short forms, some people get long forms. If you get a long form and don't feel the need to answer everything, if you will just answer a few items (in 2000, the required questions on the long form had an asterisk out to the side), they will leave you alone. Ideally, everyone would fill out the form and send it back in and there would be no need for a second phase.

But that doesn't happen. So we have a second phase. In this phase, the normal people they hired in the first place end up being supervisors and they hire most of the rest of the applicants who can range from slightly odd to did-you-come-in-as-Stephanie-or-Tim-today or what-medical-experiment-are-you-signing-up-for-next strange. And they send those people to your house to get you to fill out the form.

So if you'd like to avoid a visit from Stephanie/Tim, you might just go ahead and fill out the form when it first comes. It should be in your mailbox early next year. I'll probably talk about it again when it happens.

Some pointers to avoid being taken advantage of, things I actually saw happen or received calls about when I manned the phones in the evening at the office where I worked:

  • You do not have to pay anything. There are no late fees, if you are visited by Stephanie/Tim, because life got too busy and you didn't fill out the form, and he/she tries to get you to pay a fee, they are scamming you. Technically you already paid for it with your taxes. Want to eliminate some wasteful government spending, fill your form out when you get it in the mail instead of having someone come out to your house.

  • All census employees have a badge. If they make you feel the least bit uncomfortable about the questions, take their name down, you can call your local census office and report them. They will be dealt with, and we pretty much fired people for asking any questions not on the form.

  • The census does not want your social security number. Seriously. They don't. If someone claims to be from the census and asks for your social security number, it is a scam. Do not give it to them, and call the police. If they have a badge, call the local census office and report them, but also call the police.

  • Be nice, these people are not making much money. The hours suck, the pay sucks, they just want to know how many bodies lived in your house on Jan 1, 2010. That's it.

  • If you have a kid away from home, they should fill out their census to reflect where they live more than 50% of the time. So a kid away at college will tell the census that they live in their college town.

  • If you apply to work for the census, when they call to offer you a job, consider not cursing at them and hanging up on them as if they are trying to sell you a time-share.

  • The pay varies from office to office based on the cost of living and comparable jobs in the area. When I left College Station to come home for the summer, I transferred to a Houston office. I was demoted, since my shift supervisor position in College Station was not available in the Houston office. And in doing so, I got a raise.

The census is used to determine all kinds of things, from federal aid, to redistricting. It's kind of important to make sure that everyone in the country is represented.


kbreints said...

What-- good info! Thanks. I will be filling out my form for sure ;)

Anonymous said...

All this sounds very familiar. I wonder if this area will still be centered in Texas City. Also with Galveston in such a mess, counting the homeless will be a real chalenge.

The Modernish Father said...

The complications and challenges of conducting a head count on such a massive scale is mind boggling.

bernthis said...

thank you as I hate when people I don't know come to my door. If that makes it for a less bothersome afternoon, I promise, I will fill it out as soon as I get it.

Cant Hardly Wait said...

I didn't even know such a process happens. But then again I'm 20 and just recently got my juror form in the mail.