Census to Employ Thousands in Montana, Wyoming

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – The U.S. Census of 2010 is projected to employ up to 7,000 people in Montana and northern Wyoming, the government says.

“We have lots of needs,” said Michael Crummett, manager of the Early Local Census Office in Billings.

The Billings office is preparing for census operations in an area covering 200,000 square miles in eastern Montana and northern Wyoming. Next fall, offices are scheduled to open in the Montana cities of Missoula and Great Falls, and in Casper, Wyo. Each of those offices will be responsible for a region.

The Billings office opened three months ago and has about 145 employees. Crummett said as many as 400 will be needed this spring to conduct the first round of field work for the census. At the peak of work in the spring and summer of 2010, about 700 workers will be needed in Yellowstone County alone, Crummett said.

Hourly pay will range from $8.25 to $14.

Crummett said there will be a wide range of full- and part-time jobs with day, evening and weekend hours, and with weekly paychecks. Compensation does not include health insurance. Field workers who use their homes as offices and must drive to do their jobs will received federal mileage reimbursement, presently 58.5 cents a mile.

The biggest task involves collecting demographic information from households that do not return mailed surveys. Every household in the country will be asked to complete the one-page survey consisting of 10 to 12 questions, a survey that officials say will take about 10 minutes to complete. Mailings are planned in February 2010 and March 2010.

“If people just return the form, they will not be visited,” Crummett said. “If they don’t return the survey, they will be visited and pestered until we get the information we’re after.”

Crummett said a lengthy survey that selected households were asked to complete in 2000 was criticized widely and will not be used this time. The Census Bureau has been conducting the American Community Survey periodically since 2000 to gather in-depth socio-economic and housing information.

Crummett said that for every 1 percent of the nationwide population that fails to respond to mailed requests for census information, the government spends $70 million to $90 million to gather the information in person. In the past, the response rate has been about 60 percent, he said.

Uses for census information include the allocation of congressional seats.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.