Want To Bring Economic Stimulus to Your Area? Mail Back Your Census Form (Or Not) Skip to main content

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Want To Bring Economic Stimulus to Your Area? Mail Back Your Census Form (Or Not)


In these tough economic times, many believe the federal government has already launched yet another stimulus program. This one’s called the U.S. Census.

Every 10 years, the Census Bureau takes a demographic snapshot of the American population, determining how many people reside within our nation's borders, who they are, and where they live. The results help determine our representation in government, as well as how federal funds are spent in our communities on things like roads, parks, housing, schools, and public safety.

Don’t think the census can make a direct economic impact? The numbers don’t seem to lie.

As Nightly Business Report’s Terri Cullen reported in her article The Census as Economic Stimiulus, “Nearly 1.4 million census takers are expected to earn upwards of $15 billion helping to help compile the 2010 census. (Workers are paid an average of $15 an hour for roughly 13 weeks.)” As such, census-related hiring could have an immediate impact on America’s staggering unemployment rates.

As is tradition, following the mass census form mail out, census workers go from door-to-door, house-to-house, to retrieve census information from homes that have yet to mail back the  important demographic information found on census questionnaires. According to Cullen’s article, “the government saves $85 million for every 1 percent of the population that simply mail the forms back -- if everyone mailed them back, it would save $1.5 billion. (So far, 34% have been returned.) The census will spend another $340 million on a national ad campaign to explain why the census is important, and urge Americans to complete the form and send it back.”

Due to the current housing crisis affecting every inch of our country, Cullen notes that this year's census campaign in particular, may provide even more economic kick-backs than it would under normal circumstances. Census Director Robert M. Groves recently shared on his own blog that the unprecedented number of home foreclosures have left thousands of homes vacant. "To be sure these housing units are vacant, we will send census workers to follow-up on these addresses beginning in May," he wrote. "This inevitably adds to the salary costs of the census."

Those men and women hired to go door-to-door for the census will make extra money in places like Arizona, Florida and Nevada, considered ground zero for many of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.  For example, in Nevada, Cullen said, “one in every 102 housing units was in foreclosure in February, according to real-estate data provider RealtyTrac Inc. That's four times the national average. (In Arizona and Florida, it's one in every 163 homes.)”

While the economic benefits of these census hirings may not be an economic silver bullet for our recent recessionary woes, economists do foresee that the United States economy “will see a bump in consumer spending as a result of this new surge in employment. Still, these jobs are temporary -- and so the economic boost will likely prove temporary as well.”

Whether the census jobs are temporary or not, American workers will, as Cullen puts it “take what they can get.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, these short-term jobs not only offer good pay, but also flexible hours, paid training, and reimbursement for authorized work-related expenses, such as mileage incurred while conducting census work. Best of all, census takers work right in their own communities. Most positions require a valid driver's license and use of a vehicle. However, use of public transportation may be authorized in certain areas.

All census takers must be able to speak English, but people who have bilingual skills are needed in communities where a large number of residents primarily speak other languages.

To apply contact your Local Census Office or by calling 1-866-861-2010.

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