Lawmakers, Advocates Worry Bureau Won’t Fill Half Million 2020 Census Jobs
In these final weeks before the 2020 census is rolled out to the entire U.S., the federal government is under pressure to hire and train around a half-million door knockers and other temporary workers by this spring. Near record low unemployment is raising concerns the Census Bureau won’t be able to find enough qualified temps, who play a critical role in ensuring the bureau meets the constitutional mandate to count every person living in the country every 10 years. The population numbers set the distribution of political representation and an estimated $1.5 trillion a year in federal funding for states and local communities. The accuracy of census information collected from historically undercounted groups hinges largely on the bureau’s ability to dramatically staff up in a matter of months once a decade. Census Bureau research has shown that a disproportionate share of people of color may be left out of the count unless they receive a home visit from a census worker. The NAACP and the Center for Popular Democracy Action are leading two separate federal lawsuits against the Census Bureau, alleging the government is planning to send out too few enumerators and risking undercounts of communities of color. “I’m concerned that because the Census Bureau has fallen behind in the hiring for the 2020 census, it may not have the manpower it needs to conduct follow-up operations to ensure that everyone in America fills out the census form,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) last month during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the census.