CULLMAN, Ala. – The 2020 Census is still officially almost seven months away, but such a big undertaking cannot happen instantly. In preparation for the big push next March and April, census workers have already begun going door to door performing “address canvassing.”
The U.S. Census Bureau explains: “Known as In-Field Address Canvassing, this is the process of having field staff visit specific geographic areas to identify every place where people live or could live. The staff then compare what they see on the ground to the existing census address list. They verify, correct, or add address and location information.”
Cullman Economic Development Agency’s (CEDA) Susan Eller on Friday said, “I think we need to let people know they’re out there, and to cooperate.”
The address canvassers are not performing the actual census but are verifying the existence and occupation of dwellings. As such, they will simply be checking the correct address and verifying the type of dwelling: house, apartment or mobile home. Thanks to the use of current technology including satellite imagery, the Census Bureau has already been able to verify 65% of all addresses before sending out the first canvasser, so most residents will not get a visit. Some will, though, and the City of Cullman wants residents to be ready.
Are they for real?
Census Bureau address canvassers work part-time on a contract basis, so they may have day jobs or be college students with class schedules. This means that they might be knocking on doors at odd times: evenings or weekends.
If someone comes to your door saying they are from the Census Bureau, the Bureau advises: “To help identify address listers, employees will have badges and briefcases indicating their affiliation with the Census Bureau. They will knock on doors and ask a few simple questions to verify the address and any additional living quarters on the property for inclusion in the census.
“Employees will introduce themselves as a Census Bureau employee, show their official government ID badge, and explain the purpose of the visit. People may also ask them for a picture ID from another source to confirm their identity.”
Census participation important
For each person who participates in the 2020 Census, the State of Alabama will receive almost $1,600 that will go into services like education, mental health and other needed programs. On the other hand, during her recent visit, Gov. Kay Ivey warned that low census numbers in Alabama could cost the state crucial funding, as well as seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Eller and Cullman City Clerk Wesley Moore shared that the Cullman area saw lower than national average participation rates in the 2010 census. To reverse the trend and increase numbers, the City is putting a few ideas to work.
Said Eller, “We’re going to be doing some community events. We’ll be putting computers in various spots throughout the community so that people will have easy access to those computers. We’re looking at doing a mobile unit that we can put at events, or we maybe can put in parking lots of businesses.”
Moore added, “We’re going to try to make it accessible and easy for people.”
Census workers needed
For anyone looking for temporary work or extra income, the Census Bureau is still seeking workers. According to the Bureau, Cullman County census workers will be paid $13.50 per hour plus reimbursement for related mileage and expenses. For more information or to find links to start an application, visit www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/03/2020-census-hiring-thousands-of-workers-ramps-up.html.
For further information, go to https://census.alabama.gov/.
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