CAMDEN, NJ — The Camden County Freeholder Board and Camden City officials have been working with partners from the state and federal levels to stress the importance of public participation in the 2020 Census, the impact of an accurate count, and jobs available for residents.
“An accurate census count means that our community gets the proper level of funding and the appropriate representation in Congress, but we can only get there if everyone understands what is at stake and participates,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services.
As a requirement every 10 years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a census, or count, of the country's population. The deadline that U.S. residents are asked to respond to the Census, known as Census Day, is April 1, 2020. The count is used to determine how many representatives each state receives in Congress; to redraw district boundaries; to determine the need for new infrastructure such as roads, schools, and emergency services; and by businesses assessing where to open stores and locations.
Some populations have historically been more difficult to count than others, including those living in poverty, the homeless, children, and racial and ethnic minorities. Concerns have arisen that obtaining an accurate count will be even harder than in previous years, due to a push from the Trump Administration for the addition of a citizenship question that ultimately will not be included.
Officials hope to avoid undercounts this time around because such cases in the community "have left money on the table for decades," Rodriguez said.
"That causes a ripple effect that touches all government services as we are forced to shift funds from other areas to cover what we lost in federal dollars," Rodriguez said. "This affects everyday social services but also our ability to fund road maintenance and school improvements.”
To ensure an accurate count, officials are emphasizing that the Census is safe, secure, and 100% confidential. Census data is not shared with other federal agencies, local officials, or law enforcement.
“With the 2020 Census now just six months away, it is incredibly important that all members of our community are prepared and equipped with the resources they need to ensure that they and their families are counted,” said U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross. “The Census provides us with critical information that safeguards our democracy and guides federal funding – and it depends entirely on the people’s participation.”
Additionally, the Census offers a job opportunity for members of the community. In preparation for the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is recruiting more than 400,000 part-time workers across the country and as many as 3,000 in Camden County to help collect census data in their communities.
Most openings are for census taker positions. This involves conducting in-person follow-ups with households that have not completed their questionnaires in order to make sure they are counted.
“These temporary jobs offer competitive wages, weekly paychecks, and flexible hours, making them perfect for anyone who needs extra income or is looking to supplement their paycheck after work,” said Councilmember Felisha Reyes-Morton (4th Ward). “This is an excellent chance to earn extra money while also serving our community. We need residents to fill these positions because no one knows our community better than the men and women who are a part of it.”
Census jobs in Camden County pay an hourly rate of $16.50 and offer flexible hours that can include evenings and weekends. In need especially are individuals who speak Spanish and other non-English languages to work with Camden's diverse communities.
The Census Bureau is already accepting applications for these positions and encourages prospective applicants to apply as early as possible.
Census employees must be 18 years or older, have a valid Social Security number, and must be a U.S. citizen, among additional requirements. Non-citizens are still encouraged to apply, as requirements can be amended in the event that a community is unable to meet the number of employees necessary to work with certain populations. More information regarding pay, hours, and requirements are available by visiting this link.
The Freeholder Board will be hosting a week-long Census job fair from Oct. 21 to Oct. 26 at multiple locations to help residents apply. The events will be held at different branches of the Camden County Library System as well as the Camden County One-Stop Center with staff on-hand to help residents navigate the application process.
“The Census is about being accurately counted, gaining fair representation in the House of Representatives and ensuring that our community receives the proper funding to support our schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs,” said State Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez.
For more information about participation in the 2020 Census, how to respond to the questionnaire, and why every response is important, residents are encouraged to check out the Census facts page.