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Countdown on to 2010 Census
Hiring set for winter; surveys out in March
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One thing everyone can count on is that everyone counts in the 2010 U.S. Census.

Come February, about 1.2 million people can also count on a job with the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We open up 500 local offices just for the 2010 census,” said Shelly Lowe, Census Bureau spokeswoman. “Traditionally, we’ve had a great response from seniors and students" who have the time and know their communities.

The census-taker jobs are part time and temporary, but the pay is competitive, with rates ranging from $11 to $13 an hour.

Hiring will begin in mid-February and jobs could last until July.

The census is a constitutional mandate, with residents of the United States required by law to participate.

The information collected is used to determine congressional seats, provide community services and distribute about $300 billion in federal funds annually.

Questionnaires will be sent out in mid-March, with in-person follow-ups to begin about a month later, Lowe said.

The decennial, or 10-year, census is the largest survey performed by the bureau and aims to count every man, woman and child in the country.

“We do over 120 other surveys on behalf of other agencies,” Lowe said. “They are all smaller sample sizes. The [decennial] census is a 100 percent sample size."

A 10-question survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete will be sent to every household in the country.

A census taker will attempt to deliver a survey in person to anyone who doesn’t fill out the mailed copy.

In addition to providing the survey in five languages, residents can also request a language assistance guide, available in 59 languages.

“We want to make sure we have the whole spectrum covered,” Lowe said.

The census bureau even has a system for foreclosures.

“Street by street, we have to go in and verify those addresses in person,” she said. “There’s no question, there’s going to be some extra work in that regard.”

Newly employed census workers have begun visiting communities nationwide to identify each residential address.

“Our experience with address canvassing, we had an incredible response,” Lowe said. "We had about 1 million people applying for approximately 140,000 positions.”

The 2010 census will be the first to use hand-held technology, with the goal of creating the most comprehensive address list since the census began in 1790.

Even "tent cities," created as a result of high-foreclosure communities, will be counted, Lowe said.

E-mail Jennifer Sami at