Power and money — that’s what Jeff Behler, the U.S. Census Bureau’s New York regional director, says is at stake ahead of the 2020 census count. He joined Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and Congressman Bill Pascrell at Passaic County Community College for a census job fair.
“We’re talking about Head Start. We’re talking about the National School Lunch Program, highway planning and construction, health care centers, Section 8 housing, all the critical programs that are out there, that support communities like Paterson, urban areas throughout the state of New Jersey and throughout the county, the census is so important. And for every person that gets missed or chooses not to be counted, that will affect their family, that will affect their city, their state for the next 10 years,” Behler said.
The bureau is hiring hundreds of people for temporary jobs in the state to help with the count.
“This can be a great second job. You do not have to quit your 40 hours a week job if you want to work for us. You can work nights and weekends and be extremely successful. And pay rates in New Jersey are ranging from $16.50 to $22 per hour, paid training, mileage reimbursement. It’s a pretty good gig,” he said.
“We’re all in, primarily we’ll be going to their houses. It’s going to be canvassing. We’ll have a representation of the people we serve in the population. So you’ll have people who speak Bangla, Spanish, Arabic, Turkish,” Sayegh said.
The mayor says the goal is to reach everyone in the city because in the past young children and low-income people have been the hardest to count.
“What we’re asking people to do is to fill it out the best that you can and make sure you include everyone. Because I’ve stated before the hardest to reach demographic group is children between 0 and 5 because parents are not putting them on. Everyone counts. We’re doing outreach through nonprofit organizations. We have Eva’s Village, we have Oasis, they’ve been very helpful. As stated early by Jeff Behler, they’re even going to go into jails, our jail, and make sure the population is counted as well,” Sayegh said.
One population that may not be counted are those who are undocumented. In June, the Supreme Court will decide whether a citizenship question should be included on the census. Sayegh wants to stress that there is no reason for anyone to panic or feel like they shouldn’t fill out a form.
“The census, it’s safe, you don’t have to worry about anyone sharing your information. It’s easy, it’s a form and you don’t have to answer that question if it’s on it as far as if citizenship is concerned,” Sayegh said.
To apply for a census job you can go online or call the bureau. The count will kick off on April 1, 2020 and continue for about two months.