N.H., Merrimack County census still need workers

  • Courtesy—U.S. Census Bureau

Monitor staff
Published: 1/19/2020 10:08:29 PM
Modified: 1/19/2020 10:07:29 PM

The Census Bureau is scrambling to hire enough people in New Hampshire, which probably shouldn’t come as a surprise in a state filled with “help wanted” signs.

With the April 1 census less than three months away, only half of the openings in Merrimack County have been filled, said Lisa Moore, assistant regional census manager in New York, which covers the Northeast.

“There are about 1,500 needed, and we’re about 50% recruited in the county as a whole,” she said.

That’s actually pretty good compared to most of New Hampshire. Statewide, Moore said, “We’re about 37% recruited, so we need to recruit 13,000 people.”

Although census day is April 1, most of these jobs will run from mid-May through end of July, following up on places that have not filed questionnaires online or via the mail.

The U.S. Constitution requires the federal government to run a census every 10 years, counting every person in the country. Those numbers are used for a myriad of purposes, from allocating federal spending to deciding how many people represent each state in Congress.

These days much of the census information is collected by mail or online, but it still requires people knocking on millions of doors and getting people to fill out a questionnaire. The Census Bureau estimates it will need 500,000 people nationwide.

To apply for a job, go online: 2020census.gov/en/jobs/how-to-apply.html. The bureau is holding recruitment events throughout the state, including at Manchester Community College on Jan. 23 and Manchester City Library on Jan. 25.

The job of going door-to-door with census forms pays $20 an hour and has very flexible hours.

“It could be as little as 10 hours a week, as many as 40 hours a week. You dictate your own schedule,” said Moore. “You might be available on Thursday and Saturday this week, we would only assign you work on the days and hours you’re committed to working.”

People who work for the Census Bureau for more than 90 days are eligible for certain medical benefits through the Affordable Care Act.

The census form is relatively short, asking little more than who was at an address on April 1 with a few personal details. It does not cover more detailed information, anything from job classification to types of indoor plumbing, that was asked in some past census collections; that information is now gathered all year round as part of the American Community Survey.

Census applicants must be 18 years or older and have a valid email address and valid Social Security Number. They must be proficient in English, and an ability to speak other languages is often a plus. It is not necessary to be a U.S. citizen, but it helps.

“We’ll hire citizens first but if there is a need and we don’t have an applicant in the pool we’ll hire non-citizens, especially if there’s a language need,” Moore said.

The Center for Urban Research at City University of New York has estimated how hard it will be for the 2020 census to reach various parts of the country.

It calls portions of New Hampshire “hard to count” based on the percentage of mailed census forms that were returned in past counts. None of these areas are in Merrimack County; there are some in downtown Manchester and Nashua, and also some in Durham and Keene, which might reflect the college populations.

An interactive map of the conclusions can be found online: bit.ly/36vZwc0

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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