Saturday, April 01, 2000

Local census office hurting for help

Needed: Hundreds of people-counters

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati census officials are scrambling to recruit more temporary workers, but so far they have fewer than any other regional office.

        The Cincinnati office of the U.S. Census Bureau has the lowest number of temporary job applicants of the 42 offices in the entire Detroit census region, which includes Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia, local census officials said Thursday.

        “We need thousands more,” said Cynthia King, spokeswoman for the Cincinnati office. “Out of all the offices in our region, we are dead last.”

        As of Wednesday, U.S. Census officials reported an initial response of 43 percent in Cincinnati, with a target response goal of 72 percent.

        Nationally the initial response rate is 46 percent, while Ohio is at 53 percent, Indiana at 53 percent and Kentucky at 44 percent.


        A robust economy, combined with the popular seasonal hiring of thousands of temporary workers by the Internal Revenue Service office in nearby Covington, has census officials vigorously recruiting applicants.

        The office recently raised its hourly pay for enumerators — those who will go door-to-door to conduct interview census surveys of those who did not mail in their census forms — from $12.25 to $13.75.

        Ms. King said the Cincinnati office won't know exactly how many enumerators they will need until about April 18, when the mailed-in response rate for the city is compiled.

        Today is the recommended deadline for mailing census forms, though officials said the forms can be mailed in during the following week.

        The more city of Cincinnati residents send in their completed census forms, the fewer census counters will be needed to hit the streets beginning April 27.

        Ms. King said the Cincinnati office is projecting it will need about 800 census counters by the end of April. But to achieve that labor pool, nearly 6,000 job applicants have to be interviewed and trained. She estimated the office is about 30 percent below that goal.

        She said such a large applicant pool is necessary because of the nature of temporary employees. Many applicants find other work or drop out during the training or later. She said enumerators will work from two to six weeks for 20 to 40 hours a week depending on their preference.

        Census worker shortages have hit other Tristate offices, too.

        “The joke around here is that we don't stop recruiting until the office closes down in July,” said Marc Bergman, local census office manager for Covington, which is counting 16 counties in northern and central Kentucky.

        The Covington office is offering an hourly pay of $11.50 for enumerators, and Mr. Bergman estimated his office will need about 900.

        Mike Frilling, assistant manager of field operations in Butler, Preble, Warren and Clermont counties, said if there are not enough workers when door-to-door census-taking begins April 27, some census offices might have to use their clerical staffs, increase their hours of operation or borrow workers from other offices.

        Mr. Frilling said his office is also emphasizing recruitment and expects to eventually need about 850 enumerators.

        If interested in temporary work with any census office, call (888) 325-7733; if interested in the Cincinnati census office, call 381-5907.


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