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.

New York Post: Census Bureau’s hiring and re-hiring and re-re-hiring inflates US job statistics

Unemployment figures are likely higher than the government claims, simply because so many Census Bureau employees have been hired, fired, re-hired, re-fired, etc, etc etc for each Census Bureau operation. Here’s the full story from John Crudele at the NYP:

You know the old saying: “Everyone loves a charade.” Well, it seems that the Census Bureau may be playing games.

Last week, one of the millions of workers hired by Census 2010 to parade around the country counting Americans blew the whistle on some statistical tricks.

The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.

Below, I have a couple more readers who worked for Census 2010 and have tales to tell.

But first, this much we know.

Each month Census gives Labor a figure on the number of workers it has hired. That figure goes into the closely followed monthly employment report Labor provides. For the past two months the hiring by Census has made up a good portion of the new jobs.

Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

One hour! A month! So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor . (I’ve been unable to get Census to explain this to me.)

Here’s a note from a Census worker — this one from Manhattan:

“John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census.

“I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.

“I have been paid more to train all four times than I have been paid to actually produce results. These are my tax dollars and your tax dollars at work.

“A few months ago I was trained for three days and offered five hours of work counting the homeless. Now, I am knocking (on) doors trying to find the people that have not returned their Census forms. I worked the 2000 Census. It was a far more organized venture.

“Have to run and meet my crew leader, even though with this rain I did not work today. So I can put in a pay sheet for the hour or hour and a half this meeting will take. Sincerely, C.M.

And here’s another:

“John: I worked for (Census) and I was paid $18.75 (an hour) just like Ms. Naomi Cohn from your article.

“I worked for about six weeks or so and I picked the hours I wanted to work. I was checking the work of others. While I was classifying addresses, another junior supervisor was checking my work.

“In short, we had a “checkers checking checkers” quality control. I was eventually let go and was told all the work was finished when, in fact, other people were being trained for the same assignment(s).

“I was re-hired about eight months later and was informed that I would have to go through one week of additional training.

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18 Responses to “New York Post: Census Bureau’s hiring and re-hiring and re-re-hiring inflates US job statistics”

  1. end the census Says:

    Not sure if she means she was fired or “let go” because we were told if you get fired they will never re-hire you again. But lots of times people are “let go” and the official reason is “ran out of work” or something like that. Then if they’re “lucky” they can be re-hired, put to work on a different phase or else a different crew or a different section (that is, if they were working as a clerk, they might be laid off and re-hired as an enumerator or whatever). But basically we were told that if you get actually “fired” you’ll never be re-hired. But maybe this is just more misinformation or confusion that the CLs, FOSs, or managers are telling us. I do agree that a lot of what’s been going on is just a ploy to try and inflate the employment figures!

  2. JAG Says:

    Since the BLS monthly employment summary clearly states the effect of Census hiring, I don’t understand what the big deal is. The most recent press release reflecting April employment states that “employment was up in April, reflecting the hiring of 66,000 temporary workers for the decennial census.”

  3. Online travel shortcuts Says:

    [...] M&#1091 Two Census » Blog Archive » N&#1077w York Post: Census Bureau's … [...]

  4. Shelly Lowe Says:

    The New York Post article distorts the Census Bureau’s employment and reporting practices; it’s important to set the record straight.

    First, the Census Bureau does not hire, then fire, and then rehire anyone. Any employee who is fired is fired for cause. We train and hire temporary workers for various operations, most significantly Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) to complete work assignments. When the work is complete, the temporary worker goes into an inactive status. They may be re-activated if there is more work to do, or for another subsequent operation. At no time do we count a re-activation from non-working status as a “rehire.”

    The article goes on to state: “Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

    This is simply inaccurate. The Census Bureau reports to the Department of Labor and on our public website the number of people paid for work during a given week. We do not report the number of jobs. The Census Bureau reports the total number of unduplicated temporary 2010 workers that earned any pay during a specific weekly pay period. Temporary workers earning any pay during the week are counted only once. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures changes in employment levels — not the actual level itself — and looks only at the week which includes the 12th day of the month. It is simply not possible for Census to engage in the manipulation of data to artificially inflate the employment report of the BLS in the manner alleged by this news column.

    Shelly Lowe, Census Bureau Public Information Office

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I BELIEVE IT!!!

  6. CLA Dave Says:

    In the interests of presenting both sides, here is the official response posted in the comments at the source site:
    —-
    “ShellyLowe
    05/25/2010 4:18 PM

    This article distorts the Census Bureau’s employment and reporting practices; it?s important to set the record straight.

    First, the Census Bureau does not hire, then fire, and then rehire anyone. Any employee who is fired is fired for cause. We train and hire temporary workers for various operations, most significantly Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) to complete work assignments. When the work is complete, the temporary worker goes into an inactive status. They may be re-activated if there is more work to do, or for another subsequent operation. At no time do we count a re-activation from non-working status as a ?rehire.?

    The article goes on to state: “Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

    This is simply inaccurate. The Census Bureau reports to the Department of Labor and on our public website the number of people paid for work during a given week. We do not report the number of jobs. The Census Bureau reports the total number of unduplicated temporary 2010 workers that earned any pay during a specific weekly pay period. Temporary workers earning any pay during the week are counted only once. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures changes in employment levels — not the actual level itself — and looks only at the week which includes the 12th day of the month. It is simply not possible for Census to engage in the manipulation of data to artificially inflate the employment report of the BLS in the manner alleged by this news column.

    We hope you will correct this article.
    Shelly Lowe, Census Bureau Public Information Office
    —-

  7. CLA Dave Says:

    A Census spokeswoman posted a response in the comments at the cited source’s site.

  8. NYWest Chaos Says:

    I don’t understand how I can be considered “employed” anymore….since I’ve been in NRFU-RI, I have been assigned less than 5 hours per week for the last 2 weeks. RIDICULOUS!

  9. Waste, fraud and abuse at 2010 Census (the most expensive in history) | RedState Says:

    [...] Shelly Lowe also corrected the record when the NY Post story also appeared on the blog My Two Census. [...]

  10. Donius Says:

    I sent a story to Mr. Morse recently about my situation, getting the run-around from census staff workers here in NY. I was offered the position of an NRFU, I was told that I would start training at a certain time/date. When I asked where the location of the training would take place I got an answer along the lines of “We will inform you the location of the training within the next few days before the training starts” Fair enough… a few days pass, no phone call. I wasn’t surprised, when asking census staff workers about my situation at my LCO, there wasn’t a straight answer. Eventually I was told that I was not hired, and that I received the phone call only merely on the basis of seeing if I was ‘interested’. Long story short, I wound up getting a letter from the RCC stating that I was indeed hired. I made a few phone calls and straightened out the situation. I was originally hired for the first wave of NRFU, but I am now part of the re-interview ‘quality control’. I feel I may have been stated as showing up to the training for the original hire, and somewhere along the lines someone or some persons took advantage and collected hours; while making labor figures look ‘good’. I’m in the same boat NYWestChaos, virtually no hours, dealing with the same line of incompetence. So far I have worked about 3 and 1/2 hours after about 2 weeks as well, won’t be surprised if I get the ‘ran out of work’ line in a few days. I’ll keep ya posted.

  11. Naomi Cohn Says:

    In her comments in response to my piece in the New York Post, the Census Bureau’s Shelly Lowe argues that the census is not inflating the numbers of jobs created because the Department of Labor doesn’t count the number of times a person is “re-activated,” but rather counts the number of individual people hired. This is exactly my point: the census appears to have purposefully hired more people than it needed, and then provided many of them with only a few half days of work.

    I was hired in March and completed three days of training for an operation intended to enumerate homeless people and residents of various large facilities. After being told that the project would last “approximately” three weeks and that my postion would “most likely” be extended after that, I only worked one day. When I spoke with other people in my group of eighty trainees, they told me that many of them had also only worked one or two days. Someone said that only 17 people were actually used for the bulk of that operation.

    Although we were disappointed, we were still upbeat at the prospect of working for the next project, NARFU. Lowe calls this the most significant operation. We had been told that NARFU would provide workers with at least several weeks, and possibly months, of solid work. However, when, more than three weeks later, I finally got a call, I was asked to come in to the census office and prepare the packets for the NARFU workers, but not to come to the NARFU training. I worked one evening doing that.

    When I asked why I was not hired for NARFU, I was told that the computer still showed my group as “working” on the earlier project, so our names could not come up to be hired for NARFU. I and most of the people I trained with had not worked for several weeks and the project had ended. We were certainly not “working” and the census knew it. It appears that somebody at a relatively high level purposefully programmed the computer to exclude us from the project so the bureau could hire different, new employees for NARFU.

    From speaking with people here in New York and reading comments from census workers all over the country, it’s very clear to me that many hirees were trained and then given no more than a handful of half days of work. This policy not only exaggerates the numbers of “new jobs created,” but also, more significantly, plays with the lives of the unemployed.

  12. end the census Says:

    Ms. Cohn I and so many others personally witnessed the truth of what you say here. Our LCO is committed to a policy of “new hire, not rehire.” It’s apparent with each phase, and I personally have talked to many people in my district who worked on previous phases, were told they did a good job, and then were never hired for subsequent phases — instead, new people were hired, and I’ve met many of them too. So many throughout all phases were told by the LCO that their specific jobs “would probably last about eight weeks” but they ended up getting to work a few days or two or three weeks, while CL’s, RA’s, and FOS’s complained about being “pushed” to work “40 plus hours a week, every week” but told they couldn’t claim more than 40 or they’d be fired. In several instances, people who worked on one phase were told they’d be shifted over to the next phase, time passed and they didn’t hear anything and then they discovered that the new phase had started already, populated by new hires.

  13. ET Says:

    http://www.factcheck.org/2010/05/more-census-nonsense/

  14. My Two Census » Blog Archive » NY Post’s John Crudele continues war on 2010 Census Says:

    [...] week, we posted that John Crudele of the New York Post has been fighting the Census Bureau over allegations that the Bureau is inflating national hiring [...]

  15. Anonymous Says:

    I guess the recent job’s numbers make John Crudele look like an ass.

  16. My Two Census » Blog Archive » With latest jobs report, the Census Bureau’s failures come to light Says:

    [...] Lowe of the Census Bureau’s public information office commented on a MyTwoCensus post: First, the Census Bureau does not hire, then fire, and then rehire anyone. Any employee who is [...]

  17. Johnny Says:

    Shelly Lowe is full of shit. I was hired and laid off three times and collected and am collecting unemployment.

  18. Little Man Says:

    I was hired as a Crew Leader in the Census 2010 back in January 24th for a week training, then immediately started working… I was given a crew of enumerators and worked my way up to Field Operations Supervisor, this time with a much bigger crew, I had now 9 Crew Leaders and under them and average of 15 enumerators for each. Everything was great according to our office manager, but in reality… no one was getting properly trained to do anything except for the enumerators and crew leaders who had to carry everyones weight and had the most hiring, terminating of any other positions. The system used for the operations had many technical difficulties and on top of that, no one was following procedures to enter information in it. Then problems arised, people at their homes were screaming and slamming their doors at our Enumerators because they were being bothered with filing out a questionaire they mailed back many months ago, others were nice enough to answer our questionaires even after they send it in the mail and answered by personal interview. It has been very unorganized, today I was called to the office to hear that I did not returned assignments on time to their closing deadline last friday! when others in other offices around the city are still working until the US Census deadline which comes in July. I was written up and told that I was no longer going to be a Supervisor and that the only thing I was able to have was the position of Enumerator, my boss said he/she begged to keep me because I helped him/her get through the last operation in March. I am now as mad as I could ever be, not with the Census, but with managers who have nothing they care about but keeping their own jobs. Good luck to all those who are still in, I will be looking for something else, because is true when they say that getting fired from a job at the Census can actually close some doors for you.