Census Bureau to hire about 140 in Cape Girardeau County for 2010 count

Thursday, January 15, 2009
Elizabeth dodd ~ edodd@semissourian.com
The Census Bureau is going to hire about 140 people in Cape Girardeau County for the 2010 census.

Cape Girardeau is one of six Missouri cities where the U.S. Census Bureau plans to have regional offices for next year's population count.

By spring 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau hopes to hire about 140 people in Cape Girardeau County and about 6,000 workers statewide. All the jobs will be temporary.

"We are looking to hire a lot of people," said Craig Best, assistant regional manager in the Kansas City Census office. "There are a lot of people out there who are unemployed.

"While this isn't a long-term job, it's a great way for them to earn extra money in their area," he said. "So that's certainly a plus."

The census, taken once every 10 years, determines the number of members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the amount of federal funding each state receives. Missouri has nine members now but may be one of seven states that could lose a seat in the 435-member House because of a loss in population, according to Virginia-based Election Data Services, a political consulting firm.

The extra jobs come at a time when the area has seen its share of economic troubles. The most recent notable layoffs include 320 workers during two rounds of cutbacks at Thorngate Ltd. that eliminated the company's presence in Cape Girardeau, 87 layoffs Nov. 3 at Rapco in Advance, Mo., and an unknown amount of cutbacks at Elfrink Trucking that abruptly closed Dec. 17.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson said the Census Bureau news is welcome, considering the economy.

"One of the most common criticisms and comments that folks make is, if there is all this growth and development, why has the population of the city of Cape Girardeau remained so flat over the years?" Knudtson said. "I maintain that while the city's population may have remained flat, we have experienced tremendous growth just outside our city borders, and this benefits us all. Now with the recent annexations that we have experienced along with the growth and development within our existing borders, we fully anticipate to see a significant increase in our population numbers in 2010."

The first wave of workers is expected to be hired by the spring. Best said that 40 people out of a pool of 176 people will be chosen to fill open field positions that will pay $10 an hour. Candidates will be tested at various dates and sites in the county, including Jan. 19, 23, 26 and 28 at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Missouri Career Center, 216 N. Fountain St. in Cape Girardeau. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and have access to reliable transportation. A sample test may be downloaded at 2010censusjobs.gov.

Before reporting to the testing site, interested applicants must call the Census Bureau at 866-861-2010. The Census Bureau will schedule a testing time.

Other recruiting pools will be 30 people in Bollinger County, 47 in Perry County, 148 in St. Francois County, 101 in Scott County and 77 in Stoddard County. About one-fourth of those will be hired to verify addresses using hand-held wireless devices in the field.

When the Cape Girardeau County office opens in October at an as-yet-undetermined location, between 40 and 50 people will be hired to handle payroll for field workers and manage recruiting operations for 2010 field workers. Pay will range from $9 to $22 an hour.

The Cape Girardeau County office will be responsible for efforts in 31 Southeast Missouri counties. The Census Bureau plans to open other Missouri offices in Columbia, Kansas City, St. Joseph and St. Louis by the end of the year. Offices already are operating in Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis.

In March 2010 the federal government will mail census forms that households are required to complete. For those who do not complete their forms by April, the Census Bureau will send field workers out to those homes to collect the data that month.

The Census Bureau plans to hire another 40 and 50 people for field work conducted from April to June 2010. Field workers will earn $11.50 an hour, an increase of $1.50 over field workers employed this spring.

"We look at this as a national event that occurs locally once every 10 years," Best said. "And we hire local people to do that work."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

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