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Census Bureau recruits student employees for temporary positions

By Andrea Schneck

Feb. 4, 2010 10:56 p.m.

In 2000, more than 50,000 people were hired to follow up on U.S. residents who did not submit their mail-in census forms. For the Census 2010, recruiters hope to attract a similar amount of employees, especially students.

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting at UCLA in an attempt to fill hundreds of thousands of temporary positions.

“Students fit the criterion,” said Yolanda Lazcano, a census recruiting coordinator. “(The job is) 17 dollars an hour, part time, and it fits into students’ schedules. The great fit about this is that it gives you some experience, and no special education or experience is needed.”

The Census Bureau is a constitutionally mandated organization that seeks to determine the total population count of the United States every 10 years. The numbers are then used for the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives, as well as the distribution of funds for governmental programs.

Census takers go door to door in the evenings and on weekends, explaining the purpose of the census and recording how many residents are in their home, as well as the residents’ gender and ethnic make-up.

Students and others hoping to find employment with the Census must take an exam that tests basic skills, including map reading, basic math and reading comprehension.

“You don’t need to study for it ahead of time,” said Danial Sajed, a third-year computer science student, who thought he did well on the exam. Sajed took the test, which lasted roughly a half an hour, with 20 other people.

Sajed and others remained for the rest of the hour and a half period, filling out a general application form, having their identification verified by a Census proctor and checking their exam results.

Census takers who get 10 out of 28 multiple-choice questions correct on the test will be hired in late March, shortly after forms are sent out to residents. The employment period will continue from April through July, but the actual amount of work hours per week varies greatly, and employment is subject to end at any time if there is a lack of work.

Despite this instability, Lazcano said it is worthwhile for students to get involved in the Census.

“It’s important for locals to go out in their own communities. If people identify familiar faces, then it gains more cooperation from the public,” Lazcano said.

This cooperation is essential to appropriately distribute $430 billion of federal money to the community, affecting funds for education and public programs. In this way, students will make an impact in their local area, Lazcano added.

For some students, however, the ideological purpose of the Census takes a backseat to the larger monetary compensation.

“I’m not doing it to make a difference. I’m sure that there’s a lot of good reasons to do it, but I don’t feel strongly about it,” Sajed said.

For more information about job opportunities with the Census, visit 2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs

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