U.S. Census officials want to make sure they find everybody.
Especially in Montour County, where the Danville population was undercounted in the 2010 Census by an estimated 20 percent.
Could that be why the government will pay census takers in the county $26.50 an hour, while paying others in Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties much less for doing the same work? Northumberland census workers will earn $15.50, Snyder, $14.50 and Union, $17.50 per hour.
Recruiting assistant Rebecca Armstrong, who is responsible for Montour County in the 2020 Census, said she didn't know why there was such a difference in wages. She does know the bureau wants to make sure that such undercounting doesn’t happen again.
Why does it matter?
“Our population,” Armstrong said, “determines how federal funds are allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers every year for the next 10 years for critical public services like hospitals, schools and education programs, roads and bridges and emergency response. It’s how we get our fair share.”
The more federal funds, the lighter the taxes on your wallet.
Montour is not the only county that desperately needs counters. The other three counties also need many more applicants for the jobs, according to Steve Shope, supervisory partnership specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Census.
Most census taker positions will last for several weeks, said Shope.
“The only way to apply for a job is online,” he said.
The website is Census2020.gov/jobs for census taker and area coordinator jobs.
When Armstrong held a recruiting event last week at the Thomas Beaver Free Library, 10 Danville area residents showed up.
Freddie Harner, of Danville, said the $26.50 an hour caught his interest. The ease of applying online also was a draw, he said. “And it also seems they really need people in Montour County.”
Riverside resident Jerry Stropnicky, who also showed up at the recruiting event, said it seemed like a good opportunity for those interested in that type of work.
“And it is important to the country, for the localities, when you think about how funds get appropriated," he said. "It’s remarkable. Getting an accurate count in our local communities is important to our area’s future.”
Residents who don't want to be a census taker still can help the effort — by filling out the census forms sent to their homes, so they don't even have to receive a visit from a census taker.
That way, Montour County can get all of the help it can to grow in the future.