The Census Bureau is recruiting 72,000 part-time workers to count their own communities in Los Angeles County.

This spring, census takers will knock on doors to follow up with households who have not self-responded to the 2020 Census. Census takers in L.A. County will be paid $25 an hour and can choose to work on weekdays, evenings or weekends. The bureau is looking for people who can commit about 20 hours a week for six to eight weeks in May and June, said Census Bureau spokesperson Patricia Ramos.

“That’s the beauty of this job — it’s high-paying, but the hours are flexible,” Ramos said.

Applicants will be interviewed by phone and offered jobs in February. Training, which will take place online and at local census offices, will start in March and also pays $25 an hour, Ramos said.

People can self-respond online and by phone to the survey in mid-March.  Hard copies of the census survey will be mailed to residents between Apr. 8 and Apr. 16. In early May, census takers will start knocking on doors and continue for six to eight weeks until every household has been counted.

Most census takers will work during the late afternoon, evening and weekend, when people are most likely to be at home, Ramos said.

Ramos said the bureau has recruited more than 40,000 census takers in L.A. County but needs about 30,000 more applicants to cover the most populous county in the United States. The Census Bureau raised the hourly rate for census takers in the county from $21 to $25 in January to meet that target, she said.

Counting every household is crucial in order to accurately distribute billions of dollars in federal funds for schools, housing, hospitals, roads and emergency services and determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives, Ramos said. In California, the census will dictate how $115 billion is allocated to local jurisdictions.

Ramos said the Census Bureau predicts that 60% to 65% of households will self-respond to the census, which will be available online for the first time.

But in L.A. County — where 35% of the population is foreign-born, 54% of the housing is renter-occupied and 23% of residents have limited English ability — fewer households are projected to self-respond.

The bureau categorizes census tracts as “hard-to-count” based on multiple demographic, housing and socioeconomic factors, such as income, housing type, immigration status, education, English ability and age. The top five “hard-to-count” census tracts in L.A. County are in Koreatown, MacArthur Park and South Central L.A., according to the California Census Hard-to-Count Interactive Map.

Ramos said the Census Bureau places census takers in their own communities because hard-to-count populations are more likely to respond.

“The bureau is making sure that we are partnering with trusted voices in these communities to make sure we lessen to the greatest extent possible any kind of undercount,” she said.

In Santa Monica, downtown has been deemed the most difficult neighborhood to count because of its high proportion of renters, non-family households and multifamily housing. The Mid-City, Wilmont, Pico and Ocean Park neighborhoods are also considered hard-to-count for the same reasons.

Deputy City Manager Anuj Gupta said the city’s Complete Count Committee has been developing strategies to reach each hard-to-count population in Santa Monica, such as the 6% of the population with limited English ability and the 24% who are foreign-born.

Gupta said the committee is trying to communicate to residents that the Supreme Court prevented President Donald Trump from adding a citizenship question on the census.

“Given the broader political climate, there may be reluctance to share information or concerns about how it might be used,” he said. “We’ve focused on working with community leaders and institutions that are trusted in our communities so our residents know that participation in the census is vital and that the data won’t be shared with other government agencies.”

To apply for a census taker position, visit 2020census.gov/jobs or call 855-JOB-2020. Those who are considered for a position will receive a telephone interview. Applicants offered a job will need to complete paperwork online and get fingerprinted for a federal background check.

madeleine@smdp.com

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