Updated Post: Census Bureau fails to hire residents of Calhoun County, South Carolina
Stacy Gimble, a Public Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau, provided an update to our original story:
In following up with our Charlotte Regional office, we have confirmed that
the Census Bureau has actually hired 16 people from Calhoun County to work
in Calhoun County in our address listing operation.
Two additional applicants are being trained as possible replacements in
Calhoun County. This is a standard procedure in case anyone currently on
the job cannot fulfill his/her duties for any reason. This brings the
total number of census workers hired in Calhoun County to 18.
Also, the Times and Democrat has agreed to run another story tomorrow,
correcting this information.
Today, the South Carolina Times and Democrat reported that none of Calhoun County’s 15,000+ residents were selected to work for the U.S. Census Bureau for the 2010 Census, even though 140,000 Americans have already taken to the streets to start the Bureau’s initial address verification process. This is an interesting development, because we now have evidence that the Census Bureau has taken their hiring errors to both extremes by failing to hire people from large swaths of land in rural counties while also not hiring qualified people in urban areas who live outside of artificial neighborhood boundaries within municipalities.
Note: We have sent inquiries to four different Census Bureau officials in Washington asking them to explain why Calhoun County’s residents have been neglected from employment. The only justification for not hiring workers from Calhoun County would be if not a single individual passed the Census Bureau’s exams, which, generally are passed by some 40% of applicants.
Here’s the scoop from the Times and Democrat:
ST. MATTHEWS – Complaining of poor communication from the U.S. Census Bureau, Calhoun County officials are particularly peeved that not a single local resident has been hired by the federal agency to help with the 2010 count.
County Administrator Lee Prickett said Monday that, although the county had provided a location for the federal workers to train census taker applicants, “we didn’t see any local people being hired.”
Prickett expressed his concern to Philip LaRoche of Charleston, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, who was on the county council agenda to provide a census update.
LaRoche said the process for hiring census workers is strictly “recruit, test and hire.” Noting that Calhoun County is covered by the Columbia office, he said, “I won’t challenge the test scores for the people” who tested from Calhoun County.
A representative from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce, who was on hand to monitor LaRoche, said her office is the one that looks into complaints and asks the questions that raise awareness. She suggested trying the “very helpful” hot-line link at www.oig.doc.gov.
“I don’t know if there are specific complaints, but people have been inquiring about the process,” Prickett said.
After the session, Prickett noted he didn’t realize no locals had been hired until the training started in space the county had provided. Some local residents did apply and take the test, he said, although no figures were available.
Asked if special skills were required, Prickett said some computer literacy would be necessary, since canvassers carry handheld computers.
Elaine Golden, the county’s 911 coordinator, said the unidentified woman her office contacted about the census “wasn’t very cooperative and was not polite to people who contacted her about positions.” And, there were “confusing stories” given about why local people were not hired, she said.
“I hope we get more cooperation,” said Golden, who also complained the county hasn’t even been notified that address canvassers for the census have already started working in the county. “There’s been a lack of cooperation with the census, so far … When do we meet the supervisor of the address representatives out there now?”
LaRoche, who Golden acknowledged had been trying to help solve the county’s problem, said he’ll contact the Columbia office for field operations, which is different from his Charleston-based partnership and operations office.
“We do want to work with them and help them out,” Golden said.
In the end, as requested by LaRoche, council approved a partnership with the U.S. Census. It’s a “symbolic but important” step to get everyone counted, he said.