Census officials still looking for employees | CraigDailyPress.com

Census officials still looking for employees

Distribution of forms heading into 2nd phase

Brian Smith

Despite dwindling worker application numbers in Moffat County and across the Western Slope, U.S. Census officials are preparing for their largest operation phase yet.

And they still need help.

Chris Anthony, a Moffat County census recruiting assistant, conducted an all-day "recruiting blitz" Thursday to hire workers for the once-a-decade questionnaire at the Colorado Workforce Center in Craig.

Anthony is testing people to help with the second and most expansive phase of the census administration — responding to residents who don't mail their forms back.

"What we're finding sometimes people think 'Oh we're getting our questionnaire on the doorstep, the census is over, they are not going to hire,'" said Nancy Janney,

assistant manager for census recruiting in the Grand Junction office. "Our largest operation is coming up. … It's the longest and the most labor intensive."

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Candidates for census jobs undergo a pre-test consisting of 28 questions ranging from map-reading skills to mathematics and basic language.

Anthony tested 11 applicants for census jobs Thursday. She has tested 130 people since the last week of December.

Janney still is hoping to get more employees, however.

"People probably are not associating the fact that May 1 is going to be the largest job pool that we are creating," Janney said.

Moffat County is one of the few counties nationwide to have its census forms hand delivered because of the rural nature of the area.

The delivery phase, in which census workers are going door-to-door and hanging forms on doorknobs at every residence in Moffat County, will be 90 percent complete by the end of the week, said Wendell Hennessey, assistant manager for census field operations in the Grand Junction office.

After residents complete the form and mail it in, they are eliminated from a master database.

Census workers will return to residences in May that did not mail their census form back and will ask residents for a few minutes of their time, be able to help them fill out paperwork and also address any questions.

Hennessey said the census hopes to employ about 1,600 residents for this phase of the operation and currently have about 1,000 employees in the field.

The 1,600 employees will cover an area of 37,000 square miles on the Western Slope.

After being pre-tested, workers are fingerprinted in addition to undergoing an FBI background check before beginning training.

Workers are trained on specific issues based on what area they will be covering. For the "non-response" phase of census operations, workers will be trained on how to interact with the public and show them how to fill out their forms.

They also are trained how to effectively interact with residents who may be resistant to filling out census forms.

"When it comes to dealing with someone that might be resistant, no one is trained to coerce anyone," Hennessey said. "We found the most effective tool in overcoming their resistance is explaining to them how simple the questionnaire is."

The non-response phase is scheduled to go through mid-July, as the process takes more time than simply delivering the forms.

The U.S. Constitution re­­quires the census be administered every 10 years.

Information gathered will be used to determine the amount of funding communities will receive for public services such as hospitals, schools, public works and emergency services. It also will determine how many seats states will receive in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Craig-Moffat County Complete Count Committee is available to answer residents' questions regarding the census at two stations set up in Craig. The first is at the Social Services building, 595 Breeze St., and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m. The second is located in the Moffat County School District administration building, 775 Yampa Ave., and will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m. starting next week.

If you go

Positions still are available to work for the census and start at $12.50 an hour.

The Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries will host hiring sessions at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. Tuesdays.

The Colorado Workforce Center in Craig also will have hiring sessions at 1:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays.

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