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How my census bureau work has been going

May 8th, 2010 at 06:57 am

I havenít spent much time around here lately because I recently started working with the Census Bureau.

Yes, they finally called me. I was thrilled. I completed 4 days of training in an unheated church hall, sitting on a cold, metal chair with about 20 other trainees each day, and as a result started feeling sick following my last day of training. Have been battling a cold ever since.

The timing couldnít be worse because theyíve told us that when the work, expected to last about 6 weeks, begins petering out, it will be the least productive enumerators who get let go first.

No oneís really sure how long the work will last, but I do know that the more affluent towns like mine had higher response rates to the mailed survey, so the need for in-person visits is less. The cities had lower response rates. They always have you work in your own home town, which is great because you tend to know the area better and have an easier time finding addresses.

When you get your addresses, you also get census maps for that area showing the GPS locations of the addresses, which comes in handy.

Iím determined to maximize my earnings (up to 40 hours a week max, no overtime), so Iíve been working pretty much 7 days a week. Not full days, mind you, but 7 days nonetheless.

Iíve been tinkering with my work hours to find the most productive time and itís clear that while you can visit homes and leave your notices to have them call you from 9 to 5 on weekdays, the vast majority of people donít bother calling you back, so you have to return to the address anyway.

So I've found the best time for me is from about 3 p.m. til dark on weekdays, and then i put in another hour finishing up the paperwork at home. All day on Saturday and Sunday is prime time, with the best chance of finding people at home.

Youíre allowed to make up to 3 in-person visits and up to 3 attempts to reach them by phone. (Youíre only provided with the street address, no phone or name, so itís up to you to do a reverse address phone lookup online. Iíve found the online listings to be less than accurate if people have recently moved.)

If you canít make contact with the people, you can try knocking on a neighborís door and, if theyíre willing, have them serve as your proxy for the other address. That method worked very well for me in an area of my town that has a lot of summer cottages on the water. I found a single year-round resident who was willing to walk up and down her street with me and serve as proxy for a half dozen summer homes. It saved me the trouble of going through the motions of repeat visits to clearly vacant homes. (You canít guess or assume itís vacant, you have to have the resident or a knowledgeable neighbor, realtor or landlord confirm that.)

Iíve been pleasantly surprised that 98% of people are cooperative and willing to do the survey. Some you can clearly see are resistant, but even then, most answer most of the questions, even with me asking fairly personal questions like, do you own the house with a mortgage? Whatís your age and date of birth?

I ran into one rude woman yesterday who came out of her house as I was getting out of my car to tell me, ďGet out of my driveway, my husbandís coming home soon.Ē As I began to do so, she told me I didnít have to, she was just in a ďbad mood.Ē She continued to grumble about the governmentís inefficiency becus she had mailed in her survey too late for it to be counted and now had to do the survey with me a second time. Hey lady, it takes all of 5 minutes and after this, you wonít see a census worker for another 10 years!

I considered getting some Mace from the drugstore in case of aggressive dogs, but I havenít had any problems yet. If I see a loose, barking dog in a yard, I donít get out of the car. In fact, I was at one address yesterday and waited in the car a good 10 minutes to see if the continuously barking dog would get the occupants to come outside. It didnít. I even lightly beeped the horn to try to get their attention, but they were obviously occupied. I finally gave up and left.

Iíve been enjoying the work and wished it would last longer. I like it becus you can make your own hours, adjusting when necessary, and you work on your own, which suits my temperament. And I really like exploring my own hometown, meeting residents and seeing homes and neighborhoods I never knew about.

While my town has a population of just 28,000, itís one of the largest towns in terms of square mileage in the county. Iíve gone to some really out of the way locations that remind me of Appalachia because of their remoteness and mosquitoes. These are people who like to be left alone!

3 Responses to “How my census bureau work has been going”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Thanks for checking in! I noticed you had been absent. I'm glad that you are getting work.

  2. Ima saver Says:

    I did it 10 years ago and did enjoy the work. However, we just left the census at their door if they were not at home. It paid good money too!

  3. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Glad to hear you're enjoying the work! I hope you get over your cold soon.

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