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.

Indiana Reporter Tries To Take On The Census Bureau

Why won’t Census hire Indy workers?

By David Barras

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – We told you Tuesday about thousands of Census jobs available in Indianapolis. So why can’t Hoosiers who have already passed the test get a job?

Angry, frustrated and in desperate need of a job is the way Judy Rawnsley of Indianapolis described herself after passing the Census test months ago and hearing nothing since. Rawnsley told 24 Hour News 8 she took the test in November.

“About two weeks later they called me and told me that I had either scored high or had a perfect score and would I come and test for management,” she said.

Judy took the Census management test at the Indianapolis Census Office on East 30th Street.

“And I’ve heard nothing. I have made several phone calls. I just get someone who answers a phone, and I get several stories. No one knows anything,” she said.

Judy called 24-Hour News 8 after seeing the story of the Indianapolis Mayor and a 7th District Congressman begging for people to apply for Census jobs.

“If there’s 5,000 jobs, I’d think there’s one that I can handle,” she said.

After calling the head of the local Census office and hearing nothing, 24 Hour News 8 went there looking for answers.

Sue Gettz, the local Census manager told us she couldn’t talk and referred us to the Chicago Office. Then she realized the camera was rolling, and told us we couldn’t use anything we taped.

Gettz said “I came to you because you’re at the front door.”

24-Hour News 8 Anchor David Barras said “because I tried to call and you wouldn’t answer me.”

“I understand that entirely,” said Gettz.

Gettz promised to have someone from Chicago call us, but like Judy we couldn’t get any answers from the local office.

“I know other people in this same situation. That have taken that test, and no one has heard anything about their test scores or what’s happening. Nothing,” Rawnsley said.

24-Hour News 8 did get a call from the Chicago Region. A spokesman there promised someone from the public information office would call back with the information 24-Hour News 8 asked for.

No one has called back. It’s the second day we were promised a call from the Chicago Region and never got it.

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13 Responses to “Indiana Reporter Tries To Take On The Census Bureau”

  1. Anon Says:

    It might be about zip codes. Some zip codes have an overabundance of applicants and some zip codes struggle to find enough qualified workers. If you live in a zip code with lots of applicants, you may not get a job. As a cost saving measure, workers are generally hired according to where they live. If that is the answer, I don’t know why someone wouldn’t just say it.

  2. FactChecker Says:

    Do they really think that applying for a job guarantee’s them work? Census is somehow different then every other job in America?

    This from the Census Bureau website…..

    Please understand that not every qualified applicant will be offered a census job. The availability of jobs depends on the amount of work in each neighborhood. Most jobs will not be available until the spring of 2010. Only applicants who are being considered for a job will be contacted by their Local Census Office.

  3. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    FC – The issue is that the Census Bureau is still actively recruiting people in the area yet haven’t responded to those who have done well on their tests. SRM

  4. TR Says:

    I worked in an ELCO. Here’s how hiring works from my experience:

    First of all, field work is not constant. Hiring only happens when gearing up for an operation. The steady office positions (Office Manager, Assistant Managers, Office Operations Supervisors, and Clerks) are likely filled at this point, unless someone has moved on. Management-level positions are filled individually by a separate application process (info can be found on the sites for each region). I’m not 100% certain how supervisors (both field and office) are hired, but I believe it’s by pulling a list from a computer based on test score (with experienced applicants given preference). Then managers review resumes and call selected candidates in for interviews. The preference for experienced workers combined with the fact that the first operation (Address Canvassing) was larger than any of the current operations means that at this point, field supervisor positions are likely filled by experienced workers.

    Hiring for crew leaders and below is done completely by computer. There is no wiggle room whatsoever when hiring. The list that comes out of the computer in the order the office workers have to call the applicants. The priorities are as follows:

    1. Geography
    2. Experience
    3. Applicant’s availability
    4. Weighted test score, considering veteran’s preference
    5. Random order within the same test score

    What this means is:

    1. If you have a high score and live in an area with a large applicant pool, you might not get hired.

    2. Since Address Canvassing required more workers than are needed right now, a large majority of positions are filled by experienced workers, who will be hired before new applicants. Non-response followup, which happens after Census Day (April 1), is the largest operation, so many new applicants will be hired then.

    3. Someone with the minimum passing test score who put down 40 hours of availability on the application will be hired over someone with a perfect score who put down only 20 hours. This is what gets a lot of people. I to a call from a woman who was mad she didn’t get hired but her husband, who had a lower test score, did. With their permission, I looked up their application data, and, sure enough, she only had part-time availability while he had full availability. (I don’t necessarily agree with this, but that’s how it works.)

    4. Veterans who score high enough on the test will be hired before non-veterans with a perfect score.

    5. There’s some luck involved.

    Regarding the treatment of the media, census data is confidential and protected by law. The Census Bureau doesn’t want to take any chances, so any visits by news media (or anyone who isn’t sworn to protect census data) must be arranged so that any census confidential data can be removed. Field workers are told that if a reporter comes up to them, they must stop working until the reporter leaves.

  5. FactChecker Says:

    According to the video, they need 5,000 census takers so they’ll probably recruit 4x-5x that many. The Census will continue to recruit until they hit that goal regardless of how she did on the test. The Census has to ensure having enough workers in the spring when most of the hiring will begin so they need a big applicant pool. Since they’ll hire throughout the spring, they wouldn’t know for sure who didn’t get a job until the census is over.

    She seems to think that she’s qualified so they shouldn’t continue recruiting if she hasn’t been hired? Ridiculous! She might have done well on the test but there could be many others who did better than her. I respect the fact that she needs a job but so does 9.5% of the population not to mention those that are employed but still need a part time job.

    BTW, of all the jobs I’ve applied for in my life, none of them ever called me back or told me I was or wasn’t getting the job even though they continued to recruit.

  6. Anonymous CL Says:

    TR’s post is accurate. The supervisor positions (not the manager positions) are filled the same way as the lower positions, calling down a computer-generated list in that same order, but by scores on the supervisor test instead of the regular test.

  7. Pleb Says:

    Oh, come on. How many census jobs are there REALLY? (Oh, that’s totally confidential information according to CB. Bull-freakin-puppy!) We obviously can’t get a straight answer on that either. Most Indiana LCO’s have only approx. 10 Managers, and they need 100′s of qualified applicants on the back burner?! BS! Again stop kissing CB ass, and hold them accountable for their rather sleazy misleading ways. Oh we know ALL Govt agencies do this crap, so it’s not unusual for CB to spend, spend, spend our money so they can justify spending more this/next time. Everyone knows it’s a game to get and spend govt $. I thought I lived in a Democracy where people stood up against govt injustices to make serious change. Sometimes I wonder if the Decl. of Independ. should say… ‘We the sheeps’ instead of ‘We the people’.

  8. FactChecker Says:

    Since most of the workers will be doing the follow up project and the workload for that project won’t be known until after people mail back the form, how could they possibly know home many people will be needed? Additionally, people will turn down the job offers, or quit during training, or quit after training like the IG talked about. I don’t see how Census could possibly know the exact number?

  9. IndyGuy Says:

    FactChecker brings up a very valid point– the Census Bureau has to hire workers literally everywhere in the USA before knowing how much work will be required. Why not make Census Day January 1 instead of April 1 so that we know how many Non-Responders are out there in each neighborhood? But Congress would probably be responsible for making that kind of change before 2020 & we all know the 21st century Congress gets nothing done.

    The Census operations in Marion County, Indiana are a bit unusual. The 30th St office (aka LCO) used to handle all of Marion County but they opened a second LCO in fall ’09. I work in one of those offices. One LCO handles “downtown Indy” & the other handles the rest of the county.

    With a recent increase in local advertising & sound-bites from the Mayor & a Congressman, we’ve had a FLOOD of phone calls & interested applicants over the past 2 weeks. We have also had tons of calls from people who already applied asking about their test score & job outlook. It takes time (and time=money) to look up their score. And being a split-county, we cannot access ANY of the applicant’s info if they live within the other LCO’s boundaries so we often have to tell the applicant to call the other office.

    Why the big late push to get more applicants? Because the downtown Indy office needs more good applicants IN CERTAIN AREAS, that’s why! We may have 10X the number of required applicants in some areas but if we are short in others, then they step up the general Recruiting effort. The advertising & sound-bites from politicians goes out to all but the Census Recruiters are being directed to those critical areas.

    I kind of understand why people like Judy Rawnsley (from the WISH-TV story) get upset but the main problem is a lack of good communication from the Census. She, & thousands more future Census workers, hasn’t gotten a call yet because THE HUGE HIRING EFFORE HAS NOT OCCURRED YET. When we get the ok to hire those thousands of enumerators, then Judy’s name will be on the list & she will probably get a call. If doesn’t matter WHEN you apply either– Judy will get the same consideration as someone who applies the day before the big hiring begins. And it wouldn’t make much sense (or be fair to all) to hire people like Judy back in November for a job that doesn’t begin until May.

  10. IndyGuy Says:

    Forgot to mention that I work at one of those Marion County offices.

    And I wanted to reply to Pleb’s comments: No one at my LCO knows how many people will be hired. We hire only when the Chicago region tells us to– and they tell us how many to hire, the positions to be filled & the areas to choose from.

  11. I Heart Census Waste Says:

    IndyGuy, the local census office manager has a “staffing authorization that shows how many people will be hired for every operation through the rest of decennial census. Each of the assistant managers should have know the staffing authorization for their own department. For operations such as non-response followup where the workload has not been determined yet, the staffing authorization is an estimate.

  12. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Those interested in this story should read more about Indiana’s lack of federal advertising dollars that was discussed in the press conference here…Census Director Robert Groves had barely any response to the journalist who questioned him:
    http://www.mytwocensus.com/2010/03/05/transcript-of-los-angeles-2010-census-press-conference/

  13. LG Says:

    I live in Grant County and just about every adult in this county has taken the test (high unemployment here) and no one has been hired – yet they still continue to spend money on having people take the test. No one called me about my score – but I called them and got my score – which was a good one. The government is spending a great deal of money on this recruitment of workers (they already have more than enough who have applied IMO). Then advertising the jobs and telling the people out there to fill out those forms. Now my next pet peeve is the Indiana Career Connect site – massive advertising for that too – very few jobs listed – and it is just “free” advertising for the people who place an ad there – there are very few actual jobs available at all. Total scam IMO. But it is what those receiving unemployment benefits must use.