2020 census

The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking more citizens to help gather the upcoming 2020 Census in Gallatin County, despite an “overwhelming response” to the call for applicants elsewhere in Montana.

Joshua Manning, a media specialist with the Dallas Regional Census office, said officials hope to recruit 14,000 to 15,000 people to help with the effort in Montana. So far 11,000 Montanans have applied for field operator positions, which pay $19.50 an hour. About 3,400 people have been selected to proceed through the next steps of the hiring process.

“Gallatin County is a little bit behind the rest of the state,” Manning said Wednesday, adding that 950 have applied for the 300 to 400 jobs that will be offered in the county. Officials had hoped for 1,400 Gallatin County applicants, and they encourage anyone still interested in being part of the candidate pool to submit an application at 2020census.gov/jobs.

The U.S. Census has been taken every 10 years since 1790 in an attempt to gather an accurate account of the population and its distribution, but in 2020, the data will be collected electronically.

“This is the first year the census is online – people can do it from home or on their cell phones at Starbucks,” Manning said.

Because it’s the first time data will be collected online instead of on paper, officials don’t know exactly how many temporary workers will be needed to go door to door to ensure that every 

household fills out the form. Still, the bureau wants to be sure enough trained field operators are ready to start making house calls on April 1. Field operations will continue through the end of July.

Workers will be able to select the hours and days of the week they are available to work. Most will be assigned to visit homes and assist people with filling out the online form. This year’s form consists of 12 questions designed to collect only basic, demographic information, Manning said.

Census officials stress accurate numbers will ensure that federal dollars and representation are allocated according to population – a fact Manning says is particularly critical in Gallatin County.

“There is much at stake for Montana, especially for the Bozeman area,” Manning said. And given Belgrade’s high growth rate, he said, accurate numbers likely will result in a “fair share” of tax dollars being returned to the community.

“The more people we have doing the count, the better the results will be for Bozeman and Gallatin County,” he said.

The Census Bureau website states that data collected in 2020 will be used to determine federal allocations to communities for education, infrastructure, vocational support, health care resources, housing, community development, and other federal programs.

More information about the 2020 Census can be found at 2020census.gov.