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With a total of $675 billion waiting to be distributed different communities across the country, you want to be counted in the 2020 Census.
That’s the message provided by Dalilah Garcia, a media specialist for the United States Census Bureau, and she and the bureau are helping residents in south Texas understand that.
This week, the Census Bureau opened their Area Census Office in McAllen. The office, located at Dove Pointe Plaza on 516 E. Dove Ave., will serve as headquarters for the 8,000 people in south Texas the bureau wants to employ.
“It’s important to have a presence here and have employees who look like their neighbors and who know their neighborhoods,” Garcia said. “It’s important that when a [census taker] comes to the door, it’s someone you recognize and trust.”
Garcia provided members of the media a tour of the bureau’s headquarters Wednesday, the day before their grand opening ceremony. The office space, which housed a dozen employees and had its walls lined up with maps of the area, will help provide a total of 8,000 jobs in the counties of Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy and Starr.
The census, according to the bureau’s website, occurs every 10 years to count every single individual living in the country to determine where to distribute $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs.
For the first time in the history of the census, the 9-question census will be available online starting next March and can also be taken by phone. The census will be available in 13 languages and will still be available in its traditional mail-in format for those without access to the online form or to a phone.
The money, Garcia said, funds 56 federal programs such as Medicaid, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Head Start and nutrition programs like SNAP. The 2010 census found 308,745,538 individuals living in the country, the census website states.
“And yet, we estimate that as many as 1 million children under the age of five were not counted,” Garcia said. “Now they’re all grown up and need to be counted because of the resources they will need to be funded for. That’s where the new employers come in.”
The south Texas bureau central office is looking to hire thousands of enumerators, or census takers, who will go door to door to conduct in person interviews. The office also looks to hire an area census office manager, an administrative officer, up to 30 clerks and 20 office supervisors.
To apply, those who are 18 years old and older can go to 2020census.gov/jobs. Garcia said.
“It’s a federal job with flexible hours where they will be working through the census counting period which ends next summer,” Garcia said. “We are hiring locally and want people who know the area who understand the importance of the census so they can spread that message to others. If we don’t get people to respond, they don’t get counted and we lose money. We need everyone using the roads to respond.”
This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 11, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.