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.

Posts Tagged ‘recruitment’

Census Bureau Official says Senator Schumer Was Misled: The Truth About Census Jobs

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
MyTwoCensus has received a contribution from a Census Bureau official (verified to make sure this person is for real but with her full anonymity protected) that will serve as a response to our recent story from Indiana:
Several weeks ago, I was in a test session where an applicant told me that he heard about the census from an announcement by Senator Chuck Schumer on the nightly news.  The Senator said the work would pay pretty well and go anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. The applicant was nonetheless shocked when I handed him this piece of paper which said that the test he took was for work lasting only one to three weeks…(SEE ABOVE DOCUMENT)

As there is much confusion, I thought I’d write this letter to clarify some misconceptions. The first myth is the census will begin hiring in early 2010 which has some truth to it. There will be several smaller operations and a small number of office positions but the number of jobs is neglible (less than 5%).
The majority of jobs will be in May 2010 for the Non-Response Followup operation where enumerators will knock on people’s doors and ask them to fill out a questionnaire. The second myth is that the jobs last anywhere from ten weeks to six to eight months. According to this sheet of paper, it will last up to three weeks.   In fact the embarrassing part is no one really knows how long the job will last.
However from November 2009 to April 2010 the Census Bureau is on a mission to recruit tens of thousands of people based upon a model they will need five applicants for every one position:
* because one person will decline the position (doubt it, the unemployment rate is in double digits)
* one won’t show up to training (doubt that will happen for god’s sake the unemployment has been the worst in any census in a half a century)
* one won’t complete training or pass the test (they assume the applicant pool is inherently dumb which isn’t true because of the high caliber of applicants in the recession)
* and one will quit the first week (ok that might happen if you don’t like getting the door slammed in your face)
Based on my experience I can tell you we have had very high test scores, few job refusals and high retention of staff. If this continues it will result in many people not getting hired. The Census Bureau is wasting money recruiting all these people for a small number of jobs. It needs to rethink this ridiculous model because as we all know they already made the startling admission that their cost estimation models are completely inadequate  (just look at address canvassing and group quarters validation).
Most areas are already meeting their recruiting goals but we have trouble recruiting in more affluent neighborhoods of New York. In typical census fashion when goals aren’t being met they throw bodies at it and hope it improves. They hire recruiting assistants (RAs) based off a test score and ask yes/no questions during the interview. You answer yes to all the questions you get the job. Every week they hire more recruiting and partnership assistants. There is no organization, they just ask you to take a whole bunch of brochures and cards and give them out in the hopes you will get people to take the test.
Everyone has the same ideas: visit church groups, public housing, non-profit organizations so there is duplication of work. When the recruiting goals aren’t being met RCC intimidates and offers little constructive help. There are regional technicians who just go around and tell us we’re not recruiting enough people…(especially this short Asian guy with a Napoleon complex and some guy who snoozes during meetings). They don’t seem to understand that no one wants to take a test for the possibility of a job a few months from now, lasting only one-three weeks for $18.75 an hour which barely pays the exorbitant rents of $3,500 a month. More test sessions are scheduled and more clerks are hired but the phones don’t ring anymore than they did last week. Judging by the way they do recruiting you think this is the first time they are doing this. But they’ve been doing this since the first census in 1790. (okay maybe they didn’t have to recruit workers on horseback but it seems like an amateur operation).

The Census Bureau needs some innovation here:

* track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying
* commission or compensation linked to performance
* targeted media ads in local newspapers (which I have yet to see)
* get the Census road tour vehicle out there or have recruiting assistants tranform their cars into promotional vehicles
* reaching out to business improvement districts and unemployment agencies to advertise their jobs

Track recruiting efforts by putting a unique code (corresponding to each RA) on each brochure so there is an incentive everything they hand out results in someone applying…And while they are at it someone should reevaluate this model which I know is wrong. They need to stop throwing needless money away to recruit people who won’t even get called. The model is get as many bodies to take the test, offer a small percentage of them jobs and tell them it will last eight weeks. Then headquarters realizes there isn’t any work, other areas are working faster and they are running out of money.
In order to save themselves embarrassment they will rush the operation because the quicker they finish the better they look and the less money they have to spend. Get the hopes up of thousands of unemployed Americans who need work to put food on the table. Rinse and repeat.
So if anyone is listening to me. We don’t need more people, we just need better workers, better leadership and a more realistic recruiting model. Perhaps this recruiting speech might be more fit:
Hi I’m a recruiting assistant with the United States Census Bureau. We’re offering jobs in your community, as an RA I can’t tell you how long the jobs will last. The jobs may last eight weeks, but will probably be more like one to three weeks. I actually don’t know because our leaders at Census Bureau headquarters don’t know either. I do know you will need to take a basic skills test in reading comprehension, math skills and reasoning. However if you don’t get a perfect score and you’re not a veteran you may not get hired. On a lasting note you will make good money for a few weeks, then headquarters will realize they overestimated the workload, over staffed the operation and are running out of money. To make themselves look good they will probably tell you to work faster, do a haphazard job or risk being terminated. Are you still interested in a job?

New Advertising Contract: GA1

Friday, September 4th, 2009

The Census Bureau just awarded another significant media contract. This time, the recipient is Global Advertising 1st, known colloquially as GA1.

Here’s the  press release from PR Newswire:

GA1 will launch advertising recruitment campaigns for the 2010 Census that
spans 28 states.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Global Advertising 1st (GA1), an
award-winning integrated marketing solutions firm, has been chosen to meet the
US Census Bureau's increasing needs to recruit applicants for temporary
positions necessary to conduct the decennial Census in 2010. Since 2008, GA1
has been executing an advertising recruitment campaign in the Philadelphia
region, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Washington,

On August 31st, the US Census Bureau contracted GA1 to handle recruitment
advertising in the Boston, Seattle, Kansas City, and Charlotte regions. The
campaigns will launch during the peak recruiting phase of the 2010 Census,
which falls between late 2009 and mid-2010. 

GA1's multicultural expertise has enabled them to reach a key recruitment
objective of the Census, which is to ensure that audiences rich in diversity
have had an opportunity to hear and respond to the recruitment message. The
advertising campaigns in the Boston, Seattle, Kansas City, and Charlotte
regions span 28 states. "GA1 has been proactive in designating teams to serve
each of the regions and the thousands of media placements our team will be
handling until the US Census 2010 goals are met," stated Derrick Hollie,
president and CEO of GA1. The US Census Bureau must recruit approximately 3.8
million applicants to staff temporary census positions for all census
operations nationwide. This formidable task is the largest peacetime
mobilization effort in America's history. Hollie says, "GA1 is excited to be a
part of such an important initiative mandated by the US government, and our
team is prepared to make the 2010 Census a huge success. 

Census operations and recruitment efforts are divided among twelve Regional
Census Centers (RCC). GA1 will implement recruitment advertising in five of
the twelve regions. RCCs are temporary Census Bureau offices established
during a decennial census to manage census field office and local census
office activities, and to conduct geographic programs and support operations. 

The U.S. Census Bureau is the primary source of statistical information about
the Nation's population and economy, and is best known for the decennial
census of population and housing. By December 31, 2010, the Census Bureau must
deliver to the President, state level population counts and the calculations
for reapportioning the United States House of Representatives. More detailed
counts must be delivered to the states by March 31, 2011 for the purpose of

About GA1:
Global Advertising 1st (GA1) is an award-winning minority-owned, full-service
marketing solutions firm that specializes in providing innovative approaches
to disseminating our clients' messages. GA1 has created and implemented
campaigns for clients such as the US Department of Education, US Department of
Housing and Urban Development, Gillette, Dodge, the US Department of State and
American Lung Association of DC, and the 2010 US Census. GA1 holds a GSA AIMS
Schedule 541 and does the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a
qualified minority-owned business for government media placement certify 8(a).
GA1 has also received multiple state and local authorities. For a complete
list of our certifications and awards please visit:

SOURCE  Global Advertising 1st

Tobi Davis of Global Advertising 1st, +1-301-731-4255,