Census help wanted in Berkshires

Friday, January 09
PITTSFIELD — The federal government is looking for hundreds of good workers to help take a head count.

Timothy J. Goggins, a representative with the U.S. Census Bureau, announced Thursday that the agency will be hiring "a few hundred locals" in the coming months to help complete Census 2010.

The jobs will include roughly 20 full-time, managerial slots and hundreds of part-time positions. Work is scheduled to begin in March and will run through late fall of 2010. Salaries have yet to be determined, but should be competitive with average office salaries.

Goggins said there are civil service-like tests being held across the county currently and in the coming weeks. Competence and accuracy are the only prerequisites.

"This info and its uses are astounding for its importance to the growth and future of our country," he said. "Our governmental structure is based on this data."

Those interested in the jobs should call (866) 861-2010 to find out dates and locations for the tests, which require four hours of time.

The Census, a decennial population count mandated by the U.S. Constitution, is due to the president by Dec. 31, 2010.

Its results determine the number of representatives in Congress, electoral votes and government funding for municipalities. Goggins said businesses also use Census numbers to determine areas for growth.

Regional Census offices are currently being set up in Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester. Goggins said a Pittsfield location is currently being scouted.

The announcement of new jobs, although temporary, is welcomed as the county braces for a jump in the 5.3 percent unemployment rate as a result of December layoffs at Sabic and KB Toys.

Goggins said Census jobs, some of which will last 20 months, benefit a resume.

"HR administrators love to see the Census on a resume because we're about accuracy," he said. "We focus on details."

The first wave of work will be cross-checking current addresses with the Census database to make sure new development is accounted for and structures that no longer exist are erased.

Census questionnaires will then be sent out. After that, workers will be physically dispatched to locations around the county to help take the head count.

Goggins said for the first time in history, Census employees in the field will be given handheld computers that will input information directly into the main database, making it easier to formulate the tally.

"We can't do this work without people," he said. "We still have to do the face-to-face stuff to get accurate numbers. The quality of the people who work these jobs is related to the quality of the Census."

To reach Benning W. De La Mater: bdelamater@berkshireeagle.com, or (413) 496-6243.


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