CAMDEN, N.J. – Populations living in poverty, the homeless, children, and racial and ethnic minorities have historically been more difficult to count than others for census data. To reinforce the importance of public participation in the 2020 Census, local, county, state, along with federal officials are stressing the impact of an accurate count on our community, and jobs to be available for county residents.
“An accurate census count means that our community gets the proper level of funding and the appropriate representation in Congress, but we can only get there if everyone understands what is at stake and participates,” Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a press release. “An accurate count is critical to the effective operation of government at all levels.”
The addition of political rhetoric, surrounding a possible U.S. citizenship question that will not appear on next year’s census, has raised concerns that obtaining an accurate count will be even harder than in previous years.
“We have left money on the table for decades because of undercounts in our community,” Rodriguez said. “That causes a ripple effect that touches all government services as we are forced to shift funds from other areas to cover what we lost in federal dollars. This affects everyday social services but also our ability to fund road maintenance and school improvements.”
To ensure an accurate count, officials are emphasizing that the Census is safe, secure, and 100 percent confidential. Census data is not shared with other federal agencies, local officials, or law enforcement.
“With the 2020 Census now just six months away, it is incredibly important that all members of our community are prepared and equipped with the resources they need to ensure that they and their families are counted,” Congressman Donald Norcross said. “The Census provides us with critical information that safeguards our democracy and guides federal funding – and it depends entirely on the people’s participation.”
Each decade, the United States Census Bureau is required to take a count of America’s population. This count is used to determine how many representatives each state receives in Congress; to redraw district boundaries; to determine the need for new infrastructure such as roads, schools, and emergency services; and by businesses determining where to open stores and locations.
The Census also poses a unique job opportunity for members of the community. In preparation for the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is recruiting more than 400,000 part-time workers across the country, and as many as 3,000 in Camden County, to help collect census data in their communities.
Most openings are for census taker positions. These individuals conduct in-person follow-ups with households that have not completed their questionnaires in order to make sure they are counted.
“These temporary jobs offer competitive wages, weekly paychecks, and flexible hours, making them perfect for anyone who needs extra income or is looking to supplement their paycheck after work,” Camden City Councilwoman Felecia Reyes-Morton said.. “This is an excellent chance to earn extra money while also serving our community. We need residents to fill these positions because no one knows our community better than the men and women who are a part of it.”
Census jobs in Camden County pay an hourly rate of $16.50 and offer flexible hours that can include evenings and weekends. The community is especially in need of individuals who speak Spanish and other non-English languages to work with the diverse community in the city.
The Census Bureau is already accepting applications for these positions and encourages prospective applicants to apply as early as possible, so they don’t miss their opportunity.
Census employees must be 18 years or older, have a valid Social Security number, and must be a U.S. citizen, among additional requirements. Non-citizens are still encouraged to apply, as requirements can be amended in the event that a community is unable to meet the number of employees needed to work with certain populations. More information regarding pay, hours, and requirements are available by visiting https://2020census.gov/en/jobs/job-details.html.
The Freeholder Board will be hosting a week-long Census “job fair” from Oct. 21 to Oct. 26 at multiple locations in order to help residents apply. The fair will be held at multiple locations across the Camden County Library System as well as the Camden County One-Stop Center with staff on-hand to help residents navigate the application process.
“The Census is about being accurately counted, gaining fair representation in the House of Representatives and ensuring that our community receives the proper funding to support our schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs,” said Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez.
For more information regarding participation in the 2020 Census, how to respond to the Census questionnaire, and why every response is critical, residents are encouraged to visit www.2020census.gov.