Anyone in need of a temporary part-time job can make decent money as a census taker in the coming months, with pay starting at $15.50 per hour.
U.S. Census Bureau spokesperson Kristi Hicks, who has been making the rounds at local government board meetings ahead of the 2020 population count, told the Summit Town Council on Tuesday that the bureau will soon be hiring U.S. citizens who are at least 18 and can pass a background check.
In addition to the hourly rate, census takers can receive mileage reimbursements of 58 cents per mile.
And officials are looking for local workers.
“We don’t want residents having to come from other areas to count the population,” she said.
Hicks has stressed the importance of getting a complete count to local officials, noting that impacts congressional representation, legislative redistricting and federal funding for communities.
“We want to make sure that your residents in the town of Summit understand that we’re going to be doing a count of the population when we’re going to be doing the census and how they can participate in the census,” she said.
Hicks noted Mississippi used to have five members of Congress but dropped to four after the 2000 census. Next year’s count will determine Mississippi’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.
She said the federal government has allocated $665 billion yearly to be split among municipalities, and that division will be based partly on population.
“I believe so many of these residents do not realize how much these dollars affect our community,” Hicks said, adding that the funding can affect anything from highways and bridges to schools and local government.
Hicks said census officials want to “count everyone once and only once in the correct location,” and census workers will take a count of people in schools, prisons, hospitals, RV parks and other facilities as well as homes and apartments — anywhere a person is residing as of April 1, 2020.
When the count starts, residents can call a toll-free number or go online to participate.
“For our residents who do not respond in those two ways, then that’s when we will send a questionnaire to your household,” Hicks said.
If that’s not answered, then a census taker will come by for a follow-up.
Hicks stressed that the bureau cannot release personal information other than in a statistical format that protects people’s identities. The information, which is protected under federal law, cannot be shared with other government agencies such as the IRS or FBI, she said.
After a person turns 72, census officials release information on a person’s address, which is used for genealogy and other research, Hicks said.
She noted that Magnolia was the only Pike County municipality to see a rise in participation in the 2010 census compared to the 2000 census.
In 2000, 64% of Summit residents responded to the census. In 2010 participation dropped to 57%.
She said Pike County, population 40,404, had a 62% participation rate in the 2010 census.
“You know your town, you know your community, and you can help us make sure we get an accurate count,” Hicks told the town council.