My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Editorial Series Part 3: Problems with U.S. Census Bureau Hiring Practices

Problem 3: In its hiring practices, the Census Bureau discriminates against people who live in certain areas, particularly within urban municipalities.

There is an applicant for a census job whom we will call Jane. Jane lives in San Francisco and speaks English, Spanish, and French fluently. She is 30 years old, has a Ph.D. in Demography from Princeton, the ability to work 40 hours per week, a perfect score on the census test, and no criminal record. However, the Census Bureau did not hire her.

Why? Jane lives in Inner Richmond, a neighborhood that has a large Mandarin-speaking population. Her other qualifications are outweighed by the Census Bureau’s computer database by the fact that she doesn’t speak Mandarin. Even worse, even though she lives just three miles from The Mission, a neighborhood where Spanish is the predominant language, there is another applicant with a lower test score, who hasn’t even graduated from high school, who lives within the borders of The Mission and will get the job instead of Jane.

In San Francisco, a less qualified applicant who lives within a neighborhood boundary would be hired instead of someone who is much more qualified who lives a mere three miles away.. Differences of a few miles should not be factored in to the hiring process, as Census Bureau employees in rural areas are asked to commute dozens of miles to and from work.

By not hiring individuals who have the best test scores and other qualifications, the Census Bureau fails to hire the most qualified applicants; those can likely provide the most accurate decennial headcount.

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2 Responses to “Editorial Series Part 3: Problems with U.S. Census Bureau Hiring Practices”

  1. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Census Bureau fails to hire residents of Calhoun County, South Carolina Says:

    [...] 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 [...]

  2. Cynthia Says:

    I agree with the position expressed in this article, the hiring process could definitely be improved. I live in a small rural area, and this is apparently the ONLY area I will be considered for work. Neighboring areas with larger populations, are in a different County, and apparently, I would NOT be considered or allowed to work in those areas. It is unfortunate, especially for me. I worked in the 2000 Census, as an Enumerator, and in some of the early 2009 Field Operations, for the 2010 Census. I have experience doing this work, and am actively looking for a job, but I am not getting my hopes up. Because they hire so many people to work a relatively small area, I expect that even if I am hired, it won’t be for any meaningful duration of time. Our last field work, resulted in my just getting a few hours of work, during the couple of weeks that it lasted. I know “ours is not to reason why”– but it does have me scratching my head, and wondering why if I live next to a larger neighboring town, can’t I get to do Census work there too?