The 2020 Census forms will be mailed to you next month. Fill it out and mail it in. It’s just that simple.

There’s space to name everyone in your household, but you can opt to simply indicate how many people are in your household. Ultimately, the Census is all about getting an accurate count of how many people live in the United States for those of you uncomfortable sharing names.

For the folks who don’t mail their form, expect a phone call and a knock at the door. Census enumerators are being hired now to help you complete your Census form in person.

For states, the 2020 Census is about as high-stakes as it gets, determining not only the number of congressional seats and electoral college votes a state gets, but how much money the federal government sends them in various grants and aid.

For each person that’s not counted, the state loses cash – about $2,500 per uncounted person, for each of the next 10-years. Missing 1,000 people means missing out on $2.5 million dollars each year. Trust me, the missed number is far beyond 1,000 people. Also, medical studies, business marketing, employment and a slew of other priorities are hurt if the state doesn’t know how many people it has, where they live and what they need.

Low income communities are always considered ‘hard to reach’ areas and Chester falls in that category. The Census folks recognize that the best chance of getting residents to complete the form when folks come knocking is by having familiar faces from the community doing the knocking. That’s why they are in full-press mode trying to hire a couple hundred people from Chester to get the Chester count.

So far, their efforts have yielded disappointing results at the recruiting sessions throughout the city.

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These two census recruiters said 4 people stopped by Chester City Hall in their 2 hour recruiting effort

I met with a couple Census recruiters in the Chester City Hall community room last week to learn a little more about the jobs. Here’s what I found.

The pay for Delaware County Census counters (enumerators) is $19.50 per hour. Some folks have asked why this rate is lower than surrounding counties and the recruiters did not know the answer. However, if you compare $19.50 per hour with your current part or full time job, I’m pretty certain the rate is competitive.

The $19.50 per hour rate is bumped up with night pay, weekend pay, and Sunday pay. You are reimbursed for mileage, tolls, and parking if it applies.

You can work up to 8-hours per day and 40-hours per week. There is overtime pay if worked. The counting starts in April and continues through Labor Day in September. A full time census counter will earn over $3,000 per month and nearly $15,000 for the entire run. If you are deemed a good performer, you could be relocated to areas that need help which pay a daily per diem and hotel expenses on top of the hourly rate. 

There are other jobs available besides enumerators like quality control and field supervisors but there are only a handful of these. There are office jobs associated with the Census that serve several counties but these jobs are consolidated in Reading, PA. So, in short, the jobs which are available in great supply are as enumerators. 

I was shown the map of Chester laying out the different areas still needing Census counters (see photo below). These guys aren’t even close to filling these slots. For example, the area around Widener University has only 15 of 81 slots filled.

Whether Chester residents take these jobs or not, there will be a knock at your door if you don’t mail in the form. It doesn’t make sense to have outsiders coming in the city to do a Census count when I’m sure there’s more than enough able bodied Chester residents who can use $19.50 and hour. Why give that money to outsiders?

Recruiting and training will take place at the Chester Senior Center on 9th and Hayes every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am-1pm. They may pop up in other areas at other times. 

As one official says, ‘When people don’t get counted, they get erased from history.’

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