“As all of you know, Arizona has seen significant growth over the last 10 years, and we’re bound for more growth,” said Debbie Johnson, Arizona State Complete Count Committee chair and Arizona Office of Tourism director. “The 2020 Census is our opportunity to ensure that Arizona resources are distributed in a fair way, so that we can preserve the outstanding quality of life we have in Arizona.”
The Complete Count Committee is reaching out to Arizonans in hard-to-count communities in collaboration with its many partners, Johnson said.
One of those partners, is the Arizona School Boards Association, whose Board of Directors passed a resolution on Sept. 3 informing member school districts and leaders about the importance of a complete count, providing member school districts technical assistance to promote the census in their communities and partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau and other organizations to focus on historically undercounted communities, including children, immigrants, Latinos and Native Americans.
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To make sure everyone in the U.S. is counted, the U.S. Census Bureau is seeking 2.7 million applicants so they can “select, hire, train and put into the field approximately 500,000 temporary Census employees,” said Timothy Olson, associate director of field operations for the U.S. Census Bureau at a recruitment campaign kickoff event Oct. 22 in Phoenix.
“It’s a big job, it’s a huge job and it’s an important job,” Olson said. “It’s very important that people consider applying right now.”
So far 900,000 people have already applied for part-time, temporary census jobs at 2020census.gov, Olson said. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the online application, and hourly pay ranges from $13.50 an hour to $30 an hour, he said.
What’s at stake
Results of the 2020 Census will determine the State of Arizona’s allocation of seats in the House of Representatives and the state’s, each county’s, and municipality’s portion of billions of dollars in federal funding.
That includes each Arizona public school district’s portion of federal funding such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Title I (compensatory education) Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (special education) and National School Lunch Program that benefit K-12 students.
In the past few months, Glendale, Palominas, Tempe and Yuma elementary school districts as well as Maricopa Unified School District have passed resolutions similar to ASBA’s supporting a complete count in the 2020 Census.
Taking part in Census 2020 helps Hispanics have their voices heard and also receive “the necessary resources to serve our community,” said Monica Villalobos, president and CEO of Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s important for everyone to be involved. It’s important for us to be counted,” Villalobos said. “We know, right now, in Arizona, we are 30 percent Hispanic, 40 percent in Phoenix Metro and more than 50 percent of K-12 students.”
The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce represents nearly 1,000 small business members and corporations and is a partner with the Arizona Complete Count Committee and U.S. Census Bureau.
“We use the census information because it is reliable, responsible and relevant,” Villalobos said. “We know that it’s absolutely important to be counted. We know that the census is working hard to shape our future.”
Meanwhile another partner, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, is reaching out to families of the 4.6 million school-age youth they serve each year in over 4,600 locations nationwide in rural and urban areas as well as 140 Native American lands.
“We’re reaching communities, families and kids that are sometimes the hardest to connect with in the hardest communities to count,” said Brian C. Manderfield, national vice president of government relations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We want to ensure than an accurate count and a snapshot of our population.”
“Within these communities, our clubs can be there as that convener in bringing young people and their families into a place where there are census kiosks and that voice of trust to get them to participate,” Manderfield said. “We can also host and bring together communities to drive solutions to issues they may be facing in participation.”
Timeline and priorities for Census 2020 jobs
In January, the U.S. Census Bureau will start selecting supervisors for peak operations, and in February and March they’ll hire census takers who will follow up on households who have not self-responded to their invitation to complete the census online, by phone, or by filling out the form.
“We’re looking for people that are willing to work part-time, evenings and weekends, 20 to 25 hours a week,” Olson said. “We’re also looking for people who have bilingual skills. People who can go into neighborhoods or parts of neighborhoods who speak not only English, but the languages spoken in those neighborhoods.”
About 20 percent of applicants so far are bilingual and they collectively speak over 400 languages and dialects, Olson said.
“That’s a good start, but we’ve got a ways to go. We need people who speak the languages of the neighborhoods we’re going to work in,” Olson said.
Olson noted that whilethe appropriations law requires all federal employees to be United States citizens, it also provides the ability to hire noncitizen translators who are legally entitled to work in the U.S. when there is not a citizen available to do the job.
He noted that during the last census, less than 4,000 of the 700,000 people hired as census takers were non-citizens who were legally entitled to work.
“The bureau has not hired anyone so far this year who is a non-citizen, we have been very fortunate with our applicant pool,” Olson said.
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Dana Marie Kennedy, state director of AARP Arizona, said they are encouraging people to respond to the 2020 Census and are sharing census job opportunities with their 38 million members at AARP.org/census.
“Historically, we know that older workers have filled about half of these positions,” Kennedy said. “Older workers tend to be reliable, dependable and they know their communities best. They bring with them years of experience, and getting the job done.”
Census jobs also provide opportunities for youth civic engagement and employment, Manderfield said
“For some of our older teens and current alumni there’s going to be some great opportunities for them to be engaged in the job training experience and workforce engagement,” Manderfield said.
Concerns about personal information
When asked about people’s concerns that their personal information might be shared with other agencies, Olson said what would not happen.
“You can respond, and the Census Bureau cannot and will not share your personal confidential information with any one with immigration or any other entity,” Olson said. “Once we receive your data, it’s locked in a vault.”
“All we put out is tabulated data that is going to influence how we’re represented for the next decade and will influence the distribution, the allocation, of billions of dollars to every single neighborhood,” Olson said.
Olson noted that this is his “fourth decennial census in a management role, so I have to say that the fear that is out there in this census is not new, but I will say it is very heightened.”
The U.S. Census Bureau is partnering with 80,000 organizations across the country “to get that message out to the American people that the census is really important, the census is incredibly easy, and census is safe,” Olson said.