President Trump is expected to drop his fight to get the citizenship question for the 2020 census. What is the census and why does the U.S. have one? We explain.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

It happens once every decade, with a huge impact on everything from congressional seats to federal funding: the decennial U.S. census.

And the federal government, along with communities throughout Michigan, already are gearing up.

The 2020 Census is creating thousands of well-paying jobs, from clerks to census takers to higher level positions. 

What is the census?

The decennial census happens every 10 years and records population and housing in the U.S., Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and island areas. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the study on Census Day, which is on April 1. According to the bureau, the first census was directed by Thomas Jefferson in 1790, and it has been organized every 10 years since. The U.S. had almost four 4 million people at the time, and Congress used the results to allocate 105 seats in the House of Representatives to 15 states.  

Along with the decennial census, an economic census and census of governments is conducted every five years. 

More: Michigan launches census committee amid concerns of minority undercount

More: Detroit seeks to increase participation in 2020 census count

What jobs are available in metro Detroit?

Census takers

Location: Wayne County, Oakland County, Macomb County 

The bureau is hiring work-from-home census takers to help conduct interviews and verify addresses. Census takers will go door-to-door collecting information following a script and record the answers using electronic devices such as smartphones or laptops or on paper forms. Pay varies from $19 to $21 an hour, and mileage is reimbursed. 

Field Representatives 

Location: Livingston, Oakland, Lapeer, St. Clair, Macomb, Wayne counties

Open to anyone in Michigan, this position requires workers to interview respondents to collect survey or census data for on-going surveys, door-to-door surveys, one-time surveys, and special censuses. In addition, representatives are responsible for communicating with respondents, supervisors, and other people as needed. The worker may occasionally be required to lift boxes of survey materials or laptops weighing up to 30 pounds. Pay ranges from $14.30 – $20.54 per hour and mileage for travel is reimbursed. 

Applicants will be considered for vacancies in their immediate area within specific geographic boundaries. Those interested should contact the Chicago regional office in order to receive an application package containing a census employment inquiry, an additional applicant information and assessment. The three forms should be filled out in their entirety and mailed back to the regional office using the pre-postmarked envelope included in the application package.

Regional Technician 

Location: Wayne County 

This at-home position requires applicants to live in Wayne County. The technician will be responsible for providing technical operational assistance to one of the three operations: decennial (including decennial tests); census coverage measurement and quality assurance operations. 

In addition, the employee will have to do the following:

  • Provide training when required to staff, including on-site assistance as necessary.
  • Responsible for providing administrative guidance to the accountable care organization managers in order to assure timely, orderly and efficient conduct of decennial operations.
  • Monitor the ACO recruiting operations by working closely with Government Partnership Specialists, Community Outreach and Media Partnership Specialists, maintaining contact with appropriate referral services in order to identify recruitment efforts and resolve recruitment and publicity problems.
  • Serve as a technical problem-solver/troubleshooter involving daily telephone contact with the ACO and periodic travel.

Pay ranges from $46,103 to $106,318 per year, with the position expected to last until September 2020. However, the job may be extended or terminated early at management’s discretion. The schedule is a mixed-tour, meaning it could change between full-time, part-time and intermittent depending on workloads. 

Census Field Manager 

Location: Oakland County 

The field manager is responsible for:

  • Supervising 10 to 15 census field supervisors and 3 to 5 office support clerks.
  • Provide group and individual training.
  • Monitor daily assignments.
  • Provide advice and guidance to subordinate staff.
  • Maintain effective public relations with the community, such as the local news media, community leaders and organizations and local government officials.
  • Establish an effective working relationship with traditionally hard-to-reach populations or with specific populations indigenous to the area within the office boundaries .
  • Assure specific levels of quality and progress of field operations are being met through analysis of various computer generated reports and observation.
  • Review and analyze cost, quality, and progress reports to assure operations are conducted within prescribed time/allocations and quality and cost efficient standards.

The field manager will work in the census office located in Pontiac and must live in Oakland County. Five positions are available and pay is $24 an hour. Applicants must have at least one year of management experience. 

Complete Count Coordinator 

Location: Oakland County 

Oakland County government officials are looking for a coordinator to lead census efforts in the area. The employee will be responsible for:

  • Assisting in the development of census activities
  • Maintain contact with the census bureau, private and non-profit organizations, associations, volunteers and citizen groups.
  • Compose materials to promote current, on-going and upcoming census events.
  • Monitors media coverage, website and social material regarding the census and related  activities.
  • Coordinate committee meetings and support staff to ensure meeting success.
  • Ensure all committee meetings, activities and projects comply with laws, public acts, local ordinances, policies and procedures.
  • Coordinate communication with census committee including officials of local cities, villages and townships.
  • Utilize current countywide and/or department specific software to complete assignments.
  • Ensure the County and partners have a system to track census participation to ensure full participation throughout the county.

Salary ranges from $48,672 to $63,107 per year. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in business, education, social sciences, life sciences, marketing, public relations or a related field. In addition, they must have at least two years of related work experiences. 

More census jobs can be found at, and 

Why it matters

According to the Census Bureau, the data collected for the census help determine a number of factors in government, schools, and communities across the country including: 

  • The distribution of Congressional seats to states.
  • The apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • The composition of legislative districts, school district assignment areas and other important functional areas of government
  • The census distributes more than $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments annually for services such as:
  • Elderly services
  • Building new roads and schools
  • Locating job training centers

Census data assists states and communities in allocating funds for:

  • Neighborhood improvements
  • Public health
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • It provides age search information for:
  • Qualifying for Social Security and other retirement benefits
  • Passport applications
  • Proving relationship in settling estates
  • Researching family history or a historical topic

How to apply 

According to the bureau’s 2020 Census page, the general qualifications for a census position include: 

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Have a valid email address.
  • Complete an application and answer assessment questions. (Some assessment questions are available in Spanish. However, an English proficiency test may also be required.)
  • Be registered with the Selective Service System or have a qualifying exemption, if you are a male born after Dec. 31, 1959.
  • Pass a Census-performed criminal background check and a review of criminal records, including fingerprinting.
  • Commit to completing training.
  • Be available to work flexible hours, which can include days, evenings, and/or weekends.

In addition, most jobs require employees to have a reliable source of transportation and have access to a computer with Internet and an email account in order to complete training.

For those who have another job, the workplace must be compatible with Census Bureau employment and not create a conflict of interest.

The application process will take about 30 minutes, and you will need your social security number, phone number, email address, home address and date of birth to fill it out successfully. 

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