Friday, March 17, 2000

Count is off to strong start, official says




BY EARNEST WINSTON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Despite an early snafu with a letter and trouble finding part-time workers during a booming economy, Census 2000 is off to a smooth start, says a regional Census official.

        Dwight Dean, director of the Ohio, West Virginia and Michigan region of the Census Bureau, on Thursday visited offices in Blue Ash, Hamilton and downtown Cincinnati. He met with staff to get a sense of operations and to answer questions.

        Mr. Dean said he is encouraged that communities and citizens are stepping forward to help people fill out forms and are urging them to return the forms before April 1. Forms began arriving at households this week.

        “I'm just thrilled that this time it seems the community has taken a direct ownership of the census process and are supporting getting the message to neighborhoods. That gets the message most effectively into every individual household,” said Mr. Dean, who is working in his third Census.

        Mr. Dean said Census officials expected problems hiring part-time workers, but the good economy has hampered the process.

        “That's been a real challenge for us,” he said.

        Mr. Dean said people looking for part-time Census jobs should call 1-888-325-7733. Salary is determined by county and is based on the difficulty of the work involved. Part-time workers make $12.75 per hour in Hamilton County; $12.25 per hour in Butler County.

        Earlier during Census 2000, Mr. Dean said the Census Bureau avoided a potential problem when it mistakenly placed an extra digit in the mailing address on advance letters that were mailed out nationwide prior to the forms. The postal service helped fix the error in time, which prevented possible delays.

        But there was a silver lining in the mix-up.

        “In some way, it actually raised the level of awareness in the whole process,” Mr. Dean said.

       



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