The Census Bureau needs you!


By Mike Barhorst - Contributing columnist



There are few my age who do not remember the recruiting posters used for many years by the United States Army that featured a rather stern version of Uncle Sam with a finger pointing at the observer and the caption: “I want YOU for U.S. Army.” The posters were a highly successful recruiting tool. It is estimated that 5,350,000 of the posters were printed for distribution during World War I alone.

I recently wrote a column about the importance of the decennial census. While not using the image for their current recruitment efforts, the Census Bureau could use Uncle Sam’s help as they attempt to fill positions across the country.

Although the official census count will not take place until next year, the work of the Census Bureau has already begun. The US Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country. Literally hundreds of jobs remain unfilled in large part because of the tight job market.

One website I looked at recently revealed that there were currently 24 full- and part-time jobs just in the Sidney area alone. It also revealed that those positions paid from $11 to $24 per hour. Another Census Bureau website touted jobs that pay up to $54 per hour.

The Census Bureau needs to hire local field workers because local workers know their communities best. Local workers conduct surveys of residents on a variety of topics, work out of their homes and are reimbursed for mileage.

How is this important to the city of Sidney? How is this important to Shelby County? How is this important to the state of Ohio?

The results of the 2020 Census will help determine each state’s representation in Congress, as well as how certain funds are spent for schools, hospitals, roads, and more. This is your chance to play a part in history and help ensure that everyone in your community is counted!

Based on population shifts in the last census, Ohio lost two seats in the United States House of Representatives. When I was a kid, Ohio had 24 seats. The loss of clout in Congress makes a significant difference.

In addition to the loss of political power, more than $675,000,000,000 (that’s billion!) in federal funding is distributed to communities across the United States each year. These allocations are based on population. It is estimated that for each person not counted, communities can lose $880 per year, or $8,880 for the 10 years until the next census in 2030!

That number certainly caught the attention of City Manager Mark Cundiff and I as we sat through a presentation on the decennial census recently. Based on the modeling used by the Census Bureau, the presenter provided a map of Sidney and identified areas where the bureau believed residents were under counted in 2010.

Similarly, a map of Shelby County was shown that illustrated similar modeling. Finally, the person making the presentation provided a map of Ohio.

The information was sobering. In addition to catching our attention, it also caught the attention of the village mayors in the room as well as the attention of the county commissioners.

Shelby County Commission President Julie Ehemann volunteered to chair Shelby County’s Complete County Committee, and a number of us are serving with her on the committee. With matching funds provided by the city of Sidney and Shelby County, an intern is going to be hired to assist with the census.

In addition, we need local citizens to assist the Census Bureau by filling the jobs that are available within the local community. Local citizens are more likely to know where people are living and thus ensure that they are counted.

Local residents are more likely to know where segments of the population who tend to be chronically under reported in census findings are residing. This includes the poor, transients and both legal and illegal immigrants. These groups are difficult to count as they may have a vested interest in not being reported in official records.

As a result, Uncle Sam needs you! Shelby Sam needs you! Sir Sidney needs you! And, a part or full-time position with the US Census Bureau may be perfect for someone who has recently retired, or a stay at home mom who can work a day or two a week, or a college student. Census Bureau positions provide the perfect opportunity to earn some extra income while helping your community.

To be eligible for a 2020 Census job, you must:

• Be at least 18 years old;

• Have a valid Social Security number;

• Be a U.S. citizen;

• Have a valid email address;

• Complete an application and answer assessment questions; (Some assessment questions are available in Spanish. However, an English proficiency test may also be required.)

• Be registered with the Selective Service System or have a qualifying exemption, if you are a male born after Dec. 31, 1959;

• Pass a Census-performed criminal background check and a review of criminal records, including fingerprinting;

• Commit to completing training;

• Be available to work flexible hours, which can include days, evenings, and/or weekends.

Most jobs require employees to:

• Have access to a vehicle and a valid driver’s license, unless public transportation is readily available;

• Have access to a computer with internet and an email account (to complete training).

If you are employed elsewhere, your current job must be compatible with Census Bureau employment and not create conflicts of interest. These situations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Also, you must not engage in any partisan political activity while on duty.

Additional information including the application is available online (www.census.gov.) Thank you in advance for serving your community, your state and your country through your service.

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By Mike Barhorst

Contributing columnist

The writer is the mayor of Sidney.

The writer is the mayor of Sidney.