Lincoln, Nebraska — On Tuesday, a new census office was opened by the U.S. Census Bureau in Lincoln. The Nebraska Area office will be used as a hub during the upcoming census in 2020. With it will come new job opportunities for around 2,700 Nebraskans, according to the Census Bureau.
Reportedly, the positions will be temporary. Most will include field and office work, depending on the requirements. The goal is to assist the new Census office staff with handling what’s being hailed as one of the more complex counts in the past few decades. The most recent national census was conducted in 2010.
An official for the Bureau’s Dallas region has expressed some concerns over the relatively low rate of unemployment in Nebraska. Dennis Johnson, who serves as Deputy Regional Director, believes the Lincoln office could have trouble finding a full staff due to the low rate.
Johnson said his department had completed a major operation while understaffed and that low unemployment rates were a contributing factor.
In 2020, the census will introduce online forms for the first time.
Additionally, citizens will be able to respond via phone or even by mail. Dennis Johnson claims that households with poor internet services will receive their applications by mail. However, he believes this to be a sort of a last resort due to the associated costs. Moreover, census takers may be sent out locally to areas with very low response statistics. Undercounting could lead to severe plunges in federal funds.
Some estimates for Texas claim that, in the case of a 1 percent undercount, the state’s federal funding could run short by $300 million each year. That’s why it’s important to get a correct count, even though it’s a highly challenging ordeal with nation-wide consequences.
To help with the census, Nebraska Omaha University’s Public Affairs Research Center will assist the Nebraska Data Network.
Josie Schafer, director of UNO’s research center, claims late responses will be incredibly costly, especially for Nebraskans traveling from other states.
Moreover, the Urban League of Nebraska’s CEO, Thomas Warren, stressed the importance of the upcoming census. Warren stated that participation is a civic duty. It assists the government in deciding how to distribute over $675 billion federal funds annually. In addition, Warren claimed that the census determines the nation’s future and its government levels, legislative districts, roads, housing, healthcare, transportation, education, etc.
In Nebraska’s case, there is no state-wide committee that is used to collect the data. Governor Pete Ricketts rejected a bill planned to introduce such a committee. According to Ricketts, the bill, LB436, to be precise, was not written clearly. The governor believes that the bill failed to outline the committee’s goals, duties, and that its implementation would waste resources.
Furthermore, Ricketts believes the online applications could prove to be ineffective due to the state’s limited broadband, especially in western and middle areas. He stated that participation might decrease because of this.
Recruitment Week takes off on the 20th of October (Sunday). More information regarding actual employment details for Nebraskan census positions can be found on the official 2020 Census page. The temporary jobs offered to Nebraskans, as well as thousands of U.S. citizens, will include assistant positions, census takers, as well as supervisory and office staff.