The NCSL Blog


By Christi Zamarripa

The Census Bureau is still hiring and looking for an additional 400,000 applications to meet its hiring goal.

National Census Day is observed on April 1. / Source: (WVLT News)States, counties and communities are helping to recruit residents to pick up a pen, phone or tablet and become a Census employee. Hiring events are still happening around the nation, including “Census Saturdays” at local libraries, open houses, job fairs—even tables set up at flea markets.

The bureau is offering competitive wages, flexible hours and weekly paychecks to hire local employees to work in their own neighborhoods. The bureau is looking for students, veterans, retirees and people who are bilingual—anyone who would like a temporary job.

The bureau has faced an economy with low unemployment rates and is encouraging people who already have jobs to apply and earn some extra income in the evenings or on the weekends.

One employment barrier might be the risk that temporary workers lose eligibility for public assistance benefits. To help overcome this work barrier, states are addressing how potential earned income will affect eligibility for Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

States have implemented several ways to protect census workers from losing their public benefits. NCSL’s State Exemptions and Waivers for Temporary Census Workers Who Receive State Benefits webpage highlights examples of exemptions or waivers to exclude temporary income for census workers when determining eligibility for Medicaid, CHIP, TANF and SNAP.

Recently, the Government Accounting Office released its 21-page report on census preparation, which found several risks that could adversely affect the census count:

  • Recruitment for enumerators, clerks and other operations personnel is behind its goal.
  • The bureau’s goal of partnering with 300,000 community partners had not been met.
  • The bureau is behind on developing technology and mitigating cybersecurity risks.

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham recognizes the challenges and told the U.S. House Reform and Oversight Committee on Feb. 12 that he expects to be fully staffed by April and that the bureau will continue to recruit all through the 2020 census.

A complete count is vital because the census is used for congressional apportionment, redistricting at all levels and the allocation of federal money. Also, the census shapes how businesses and policymakers make decisions.  

For more information on the 2020 census, visit NCSL’s census webpage and the Census Bureau’s 2020 Census Jobs webpage.

Christi Zamarripa is a policy associate with NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Program.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.