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Apr 17

2020 Census, Temporary Jobs & New Tech

Posted on April 17, 2019 at 8:36 AM by Summer Anderson

The 2020 Census Count is right around the corner and to make it successful, the Census Bureau needs to hire half a million temporary workers (1). These new workers will help ensure that every community across all U.S. states and territories are accurately accounted for in the Census. Because the population count only occurs every 10 years, it has policy implications and decides the number of seats each state gets apportioned in the U.S. House of Representatives for over a decade (2). Data is also used for the distribution of millions of dollars in federal funds each year for roads, schools, fire departments, and other critical infrastructure investments

To help ensure an accurate count, the Bureau is hiring over 500,000 people all across the country (1). Most of these new positions will hit the ground in hard to reach communities as Census Takers, knocking on doors and canvassing neighborhoods to remind residents of the count. Other positions available include clerical jobs in regional outreach offices, recruiting outreach positions, and a few supervisor positions. For more info on the open positions, check out this website.

California has four Area Census Office locations but Census Takers are needed in every county. Check out the hourly wages for SJC and our neighboring counties:

For an interactive map of Census Taker hourly wages across CA check out this website.

Even with the additional temporary employees, collecting responses from all American households is not an easy request, so in 2020, the Bureau is taking the survey online. They are hoping that over 55% of respondents will answer online and that only households in neighborhoods with low internet usage or large elderly populations will actually receive paper surveys. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that this will save the Bureau over $5.2 billion dollars compared to the 2010 Census when it cost $98 per household to complete the survey (4).

However, moving online creates privacy concerns for the mass amounts of personal data that will be collected and stored digitally. The Census Bureau is employing what is considered the gold standard of privacy: differential privacy. Differential policy adds mathematical noise to the data, stopping the development of patterns in combined databases that potentially compromise individual privacy. This addition will stop the potential identification of responses to individuals and households: ensuring the privacy of those who fill out the survey online (5).

For up to date information on the upcoming 2020 Census, follow along at the Census Bureau website.



(1) NPR. The Census Bureau Needs to Hire Half a Million Workers for the 2020 Count. January 28th. 2019. head-count

(2) The United States Census Bureau. 2020 Census Research, Operational Plans, and Oversight.

(3) The United States Census Bureau. Three Years to Go, Census Bureau Prepares for 2020 Census. March 31st, 2017.

(4) Pew Research Center. For 2020, Census Bureau plans to trade paper responses for digital ones. February 25th, 2016.

(5) The United States Census Bureau. Census Bureau Adopts Cutting Edge Privacy Protections for 2020 Census. February 15th, 2019.