Census Bureau appeals to students

The 2010 census will brings jobs and responsibilities to University students.
By
  • Kyle Potter
January 21, 2010

University of Minnesota students need to fill out their own forms for the 2010 census if they spend most of their time living away from home.
Students should complete the forms where they live most of the year, and not rely on their parents to count them, said Rich Gerdes, assistant regional census manager.
The 10-question form is the shortest in the census’ 220-year history because it no longer includes a longer survey, Gerdes said. These forms will arrive at metro area households around March 15, and should be sent in using the postage-paid envelope when completed.
The U.S. Census Bureau works with universities across the nation to ensure that census forms are distributed to students living in dorms. Although students living in off-campus housing will receive the forms, Gerdes said these areas have proved to be a challenge.
“We send a lot of folks into those college areas to canvas, to collect data,” he said.
Census data plays a pivotal role in determining how more than $400 billion in federal funding is distributed throughout the nation. In addition, political observers predict that Minnesota will lose a seat in the House of Representatives because of the data collected.
As the census approaches, the U.S. Census Bureau is targeting university students to help by applying to be census takers.
Gerdes said the U.S. Census Bureau will hire 4,000 to 5,000 census takers in the metro area. A census taker is responsible for contacting individuals who did not submit their census forms and getting their responses in person.
The U.S. Census Bureau is targeting students for these jobs because they can help within the hard-to-count college communities.
Census takers must be American citizens that are 18 years or older and must pass a short employment test. Census takers in Minneapolis will make $16.50 per hour and can expect to work 20 to 40 hours per week. Their work begins on May 1 and typically ends in mid-July, Gerdes said.
Project for Pride in Living’s Learning Center on Chicago Avenue is one of several facilities where applicants can take the employment test. Spokeswoman Mary Anne Welch said her organization hopes students will get some of the jobs along with the low-income community PPL serves.
Welch said PPL was contacted by the U.S. Census Bureau several months ago to become a “complete count committee” and encourage the community to participate in the census and fill out the forms.
“PPL’s staff really gets the people that they’re working with,” she said.
Harry Boyte, co-director of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs , said that while the census is important to the University because of its ability to bring more resources, he is more anxious to see what student involvement is like here.
“From our point of view, this is the first [census] that incorporates civic involvement,” he said.
Boyte said he looks forward to the results so they can see how the University compares to other colleges across the nation.
“I think it will be important to do a report card,” he said.

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