Help the census

February 28, 2010

Every decade, the United States conducts a census, a constitutionally mandated population count. In March, you will receive a 2010 census form. It is important that you participate in this year’s census for your quality of life and your community.

The census gathers information about populations, a task that sounds very general. However, the information is used for purposes that directly affect you as an individual in the state of Wisconsin.

Our population determines how many congressional seats we get. If numbers decrease enough, we lose a congressional seat and have one less Wisconsin voice in the House of Representatives. Conversely, substantial population growth could result in an additional seat and increase Wisconsin’s presence in Washington.

The information is also used to determine how billions of dollars are distributed by the government for programs based on demographics and populations. Greater participation provides more accurate data that is used to make decisions about schools, roads, and other local services. Your participation will ensure that you are considered when public health issues arise, when companies seek skilled labor populations, when businesses are making decisions about whether to locate in your community, and when decisions are made regarding emergency services.

The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring 48,000 people in Wisconsin alone. Most of these limited-term positions are census takers in field operations and pay $11.50 to $15 per hour. Each household receives a census questionnaire. Census workers will be sent to residences who fail to return the form.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number, and pass a background check. Many of the positions involve going door to door, which requires a vehicle. Employees will be reimbursed for mileage and expenses. Applicants must complete a 30-minute basic skills test. Bilingual candidates are encouraged to apply, and materials will be provided in several languages.

Please pass on the word about census jobs and the importance of the census to others in the community. If you would like more information regarding positions with the Census Bureau call 1 (866) 861-2010, or visit

Jeff Plale is the state senator for Wisconsin’s Seventh Senate District, which spans from Milwaukee’s East Side to Oak Creek, including downtown, the Third Ward, Bay View, St. Francis, Cudahy, and South Milwaukee. He can be reached locally at (414) 744-1444 or in Madison at (800) 361-5487 or

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