Census officials prepare for low number of applications ahead of 2020 survey | TribLIVE.com

Census officials prepare for low number of applications ahead of 2020 survey

Megan Tomasic
FILE - This March 23, 2018, file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident as part of the nation’s only test run of the 2020 Census. Legal wrangling has surrounded the U.S. census count for decades, culminating in this year’s fight over adding a citizenship question. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith, File)

The Census Bureau is hiring — and officials plan to employ more than 500,000 part-time and temporary workers across the country.

Between Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, officials expect to field about 12,000 applications, census spokeswoman Susan Licate said.

“The hiring needs within each county vary and are ongoing,” she said. “For example, to properly staff Westmoreland County, we estimate reviewing nearly 3,000 applications so as to identify the right candidates for the positions. Allegheny County, 9,000 applications.”

According to the census website, workers in Westmoreland County will make $16 per hour, while Allegheny County workers will make $18.50. Available positions include field services, census takers and clerical work.

But census officials are preparing for fewer applications leading up to the once-a-decade survey because of the low unemployment rate, which is 3.7% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We have a large number of employers in the region that are struggling to find employees,” said Janet Ward, youth program manager at the Workforce Investment Board for Westmoreland and Fayette counties. The nonprofit organization oversees divisions of Pennsylvania CareerLink, which helps connect workers to available jobs.

Ward said positions across the board — including full time, part time, temporary, skilled and unskilled labor — are not being filled. But, she added, “I think there’s still a lot of people that are looking for work. Sometimes people are looking for those kinds of opportunities to maybe support what they’re already doing.”

Ward said board officials often encourage young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 to take census positions.

Laura Saulle, director of strategic innovation at Partner4Work, a Pittsburgh area workforce development organization, agreed with Ward, adding that employers are seeing more open positions.

In Allegheny County, census and county officials, along with Partner4Work, are banding together to encourage residents to apply for census positions.

“Our conversations with the census has been around trying to find people who are living in the communities where they are trying to raise the count and doing some targeted recruitment,” Saulle said, adding that they are starting to recruit area organizations who could host job fairs or information sessions.

Census officials are incorporating strategies aimed at social media, partnerships with local organizations, public service announcements and recruitment booths at public events to help fill available positions by February.

Those interested can apply at 2020census.gov/jobs. CareerLink also has census positions posted on its website.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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