Local census recruiters concerned about lack of census applicants

By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - It's testing day for U.S. census workers. Only six people show up. On some days it's less than that. Local census recruiters are concerned. They can't give interviews, but recruiter helpers with the Texas workforce solution can.

"I know they had originally were going to stop about December in doing applications, but it's February and they're still taking applications, so this is crunch time for them," said Ramona Kimble-Tutt of Texas Workforce Solutions.

The census bureau wants 9,500 applicants to serve a 13-county East Texas region including Nacogdoches, Longview, Tyler and San Augustine areas. So far just over a third of that number has applied.  Census forms go out in about six weeks.

"It's going to be very difficult for it to be achieved. I know the census takers are looking for bilingual folks to come in and apply so we can make sure we got all the populations accounted for," said Melanie Brown of Texas Workforce Solutions.

The census regions are very large. Headquarter sites can be hours away from some cities. Visits from census representatives are infrequent. Local census committees publicize the importance of the census, but can do little to actually recruit.

"There's a lot more people out there than they realize," said Tutt.

A U.S. census spokesperson said most of the hiring will take place later in April. At that point recruiting will be pushed hard. In the meantime, testing sites are moving into rural areas where households are often visited by census counters.  Churches and civic halls have been contacted.

Most census counting jobs pay 12 dollars an hour. Census testing takes place each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Nacogdoches Workforce Solutions office on south street at 10 in the morning.

On Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. the tests are given at the Nacogdoches Public Library. Testing is also scheduled in Etoile and SFA.

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