Recruiting assistants, census takers and supervisory staff. These are just some of the positions the U.S. Census Bureau is looking to fill ahead of the 2020 census count. Newark held a job fair at the public library Tuesday in hopes of recruiting thousands of residents for the city’s headcount.
“People have been showing up as early as 45 minutes before the program began. We expect a lot of people; in fact, the library is becoming busier and busier all the time. We’ve seen about a 35 percent increase in the numbers in recent years,” said Jeffrey Trzeciak, director of the Newark Public Library.
The headcount happens once every 10 years, and it can be a game changer when it comes to the amount of federal funding a city or town receives.
“We have a computer set up. All they have to do is come in, log in and go through the questions in the census, and you’re in, and you could apply for the job,” said Newark Deputy Mayor Jacqueline Quiles.
She says the city plans to host one job fair for the census positions in each ward in order to reach as many people they can, and that Newark is widely considered one of the most diverse cities in the state — making it harder to count.
“We need our community leaders to apply for the jobs. We need people that speak their language like Creole, Portuguese, Spanish to get the accurate count from our community,” Quiles said. “It’s a great opportunity to start, they pay at $16 an hour to $35 an hour, so it’s a great opportunity. So we want our community and our citizens from the city of Newark to apply and get a job that will last about two years.”
Quiles says new hires will report to an office in Newark and are set to officially start working around June and July. But on Day 32 of the government shutdown, some applicants expressed concern about how the shutdown will affect new hires and the city’s headcount.
“I didn’t know if it would be canceled, but I’m glad that it wasn’t. I’m glad that people are still here, because this is something we obviously need if the government is shut down or not. We need to know who’s in our community, what they’re doing and what they need to be able to thrive,” said Michelle Reddick, an applicant at the job fair.
Although no one from the Census Bureau would speak on camera, a spokesperson issued a statement saying, “The Census Bureau will use funds appropriated in prior years to continue all critical work in preparation for the 2020 Census. Neither schedule nor cost will be impacted as a result of a shutdown at this time.”
“They told me they are going to be here no matter what; they’re gonna continue to work, and I am so grateful for the census 2020,” Quiles said.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates funding can potentially last into April.