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.