Census workers start pounding the pavement

Published 10:12 am Thursday, April 9, 2009

IRONTON — Despite unseasonably cold weather that included snow showers, workers for the U.S. Census Bureau started going door-to-door this week to confirm addresses in Lawrence County in preparations for the upcoming 2010 census.

Workers are checking residential addresses to create an accurate database so each home can be mailed an official census questionnaire starting next April when the decennial census is scheduled to begin.

According to the bureau’s office in Columbus, the 2010 census will be the first time, hand-held computers equipped with global positioning system mapping programs will be used to canvas addresses. The 2000 census was all done on paper.

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“We are going for a 100 percent address list,” said Carol Hector-Harris, media specialist for the Columbus census office.

Hector-Harris said that canvassers would be in neighborhoods to confirm existing addresses, enter new addresses and delete addresses from homes that no longer exist.

The 2010 census will be the 23rd national head count, which started in 1790 and is done every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution. Accuracy is important, since the information is used to redraw districts in the U.S. Congress, and for distributing more than $300 billion to state and local governments.

Census Bureau Quality Control Manager Dane White said workers will be identified by the official badge they carry. During the address canvassing operation, census workers may ask to verify a housing structure’s address and whether there are additional living quarters on the property.

“Canvassers might have to knock on doors, but really do not need to talk to residents,” White explained.

Census workers will also display identification cards in the windshields of their vehicles.

Canvassers will verify whether structures are single-family homes, multi-family homes, apartments or other kinds of residences.

White said that any dwelling that is occupied and has an address would be counted including modular homes, mobile homes and even tree houses.

Homes that look vacant or have damage like caved-in roofs or from fire could be deleted from the database, White added.

Canvassers are temporary employees of the U.S. Department of Commerce and typically earn between $12.50 and $15 per hour based on location. While not receiving health benefits, canvassers are reimbursed for their mileage at 55 cents per mile.

White said address canvassing is done only in daylight hours and lasts primarily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is scheduled to last until mid-July.

Hector-Harris said Lawrence County currently has 70 workers currently doing address canvassing with another 15 in training.

Information on hiring can be found at the census web site, www.census.gov.