BANGOR, Maine — If you’re interested in becoming a part of history, this year could be your chance to do it.

The United States census has happened every 10 years since 1790, and the team is actively looking for recruits for 2020. 

On Friday, January 24, a 2020 census recruiting team will be set up at the Bangor Mall to answer questions about what a job like this would entail. The team is expected to be at the mall through Sunday, January 26, according to the Bangor Mall’s Facebook page.

"These are part-time temporary jobs, so that means that maybe you have a fulltime job that but you have time on the evenings and on the weekends, and you really want to make sure everyone in your community gets counted, this is a great way to earn 20 dollars an hour and 58 cents a mile," said Becky Hayes Boober, the partnership specialist at the US Census Bureau.

Jerel Chamberlain was first to apply to be a census taker today at the Bangor Mall, where US Census team recruiters were answering any questions and helping people fill out their applications.

"People have the chance to get their own census forms in, but the people who don't, I think that's where this team comes in.. to go knock on their door and make sure they fill it out," Chamberlain said.

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The census will hire more than 500,000 people nationwide, according to Jeff Behler of the U.S. Census Bureau. In Maine, the team is likely to recruit 15,000 people – and hire 5,000 from there.

"We are hoping for over 14 thousand applicants for census taker jobs in the state of Maine alone," Boober said.

To apply to work for the census, you must be at least 18 years old and have a valid Social Security number. You should also be a legal U.S. citizen. Certain areas, however, may make exceptions if there are language barriers.

The process is definitely competitive – and that’s likely because this job pays 20 dollars an hour and offers flexible scheduling. You do not need to quit a full-time job to work on the team. Behler says the census will work around its employees' schedules, so if working nights or weekends works best for you, that is totally acceptable.

"If you are going to your neighbors they probably know you and they are going to open the door and they are going to more likely give you the information," Boober said.

The largest census operations run between eight and 12 weeks.

Official counting for the census begins on March 12. People can self-respond at that point online. If the census hasn’t heard from a household by mid-May, it will send recruiters out to collect information.

"It is our way of knowing how many people are living in the United States, we are basically painting a picture of who's in America," said Boober.

That’s why Behler says the census team is so determined to hire community members to help make the process go more smoothly.

"We need to hire people to work in their own communities – who speak the languages, who understand the culture, who know what the challenges are in getting a complete and accurate count," Behler said. "That's why it's so important for us to make sure that we're recruiting effectively."

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Behler also stressed the importance of the census itself during an interview with NEWS CENTER Maine. 

The census determines both representation and funding, and it ultimately affects aspects of daily life like education, infrastructure, new roads, emergency services, healthcare, and elderly services. Every year, $675 billion of federal funding is reportedly given out based on formulas that use census data.

"We want to make certain that Maine gets its full share of the money, so that's why its so important that everyone fills out those nine easy questions," said Boober.

The citizenship question will not be included in the Decennial census.

The money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works, and other vital programs.

The process of collecting information during the census is also safe, Behler expressed – so it’s imperative that people respond. He said the census is protected under Title 13 federal law to protect citizens. Census takers also must take an oath of confidentiality and could be fined up to $250,000 and jailed up to five years if they don’t comply.

"It doesn't matter your age, we just want someone in your household to make certain that the census is completed for everyone in the household," said Boober.

Behler says the Census will never ask for:

  • Social Security number
  • Banking information
  • Money

There will be hundreds of recruitment locations open around the state, as this process continues. That includes malls or areas with a lot of human traffic, churches, community-based organizations, and even sledding or skiing hills.