Counting Everybody – 2020 Census Jobs

by Erik Knoder

March 25, 2019

The U.S. Census Bureau is now taking applications from Oregonians who want to work on the 2020 Census. Their goal is to get about 3,500 to 4,000 applicants in Oregon who can work as census takers and census field supervisors. There are also a few other specialty and office management positions open such as media specialists, recruiting managers, geographers, census field managers, and, of course, information technology managers. Most positions are field, or home-based, positions, but the management and technical positions will be based in offices in Salem, Eugene, and Portland. All positions are temporary.

There are several ways to apply for jobs for the 2020 Census. The most direct way is to use the internet link to 2020 Census Jobs or go to You can also contact your local Oregon Employment Department office and request assistance. Job applicants will apply online and should have their detailed work history, education, and personal history prepared. The application process goes through the USAJobs website and applicants will need to create a secure account.

Much of the actual field work for the 2020 Census will be done by census takers, also known as enumerators. During the summer of 2019 they will be checking addresses to ensure than Census forms are mailed correctly. (Your author did this for a few weeks between college terms. It was actually quite fun to learn about different areas of the town.) During the summer of 2020 the census takers will be collecting census information from people who didn’t return completed Census 2020 forms by mail.

Because the Census Bureau doesn’t know how many addresses will need to be checked or how many people will not return a completed Census 2020 form next summer, they don’t know exactly how many people will be hired each summer. At the peak of the 2010 Census the Census Bureau employed more than 6,500 people to work on it in Oregon, though it will likely be fewer than this for Census 2020. The Census Bureau has set wages for the census taker positions though, and they vary by county. The pay in Multnomah County is $18.00 per hour, and in Baker and Jackson counties it is $14.50 per hour. Pay rates are published on the Census Bureau website for all Oregon counties. Jobs in counties in the Willamette Valley and along the north coast generally paid $17.50 per hour; elsewhere in the state the same jobs paid $14.50 per hour. Wages have also been set for a few other positions and offices. Office clerks will make $13.50 to $14.50 per hour, office operations supervisors will make $17.50 to $18.50 per hour.

The Salem office opened first. Some jobs there have been filled, and more are being posted. There are already 16 recruiting assistants in Oregon and six clerks in the Salem office, with plans to hire up to roughly 50 clerks total for that office. As of mid-March the Oregon Employment Department has almost 90 open job listings for the Census Bureau. Almost all of these appear to be for the 2020 Census. There are listings from all across Oregon: Baker City, John Day, Eugene, Grants Pass, Coos Bay, and Portland all have listings for Census jobs.

Working for the Census Bureau provides an opportunity to help make the 2020 Census an accurate and complete count. There are many reasons our nation needs to be counted completely and accurately. The count happens every 10 years and it influences how more than $675 billion from more than 100 federal programs are distributed to states and localities each year. The 2020 Census numbers will affect Medicaid, school lunch programs, community development grants, road and school construction, medical services, and business locations.


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