Every 10 years, the federal government counts the U.S. population by holding a census. Although the Census Bureau mails census forms to every known address, many forms go unreturned, making census takers necessary. A census taker goes door to door, taking information from addresses that have not returned census forms. It's part-time, temporary work, for which compensation varies from one location to the next.
Recruitment and Training
The U.S. Census Bureau offered census-taker jobs throughout the country in early 2010. Applicants had to complete an employment test for basic literacy and math skills. The bureau selected a large pool of applicants and put them through a short training program. Workers earned pay over the four-day training period at the local rate of hourly pay.
The census pays an hourly wage that varies in each community and is calculated according to the local wage standards. Each state has several census offices for which the national agency sets the hourly wage. In the state of Minnesota, for example, there are nine census offices, five of them located in the Twin Cities metro area. The hourly wage varied in 2010 from $11.50 in Duluth to $17 in St. Paul. Anchorage, Alaska, paid the nation's highest hourly wage of $25.
Census Wage Maps
If you're curious about census taker wages for 2010, visit the U.S. Census Bureau's website (see Resources) which contains a state-by-state interactive map. By scrolling over the map, you can find the address, phone number, and wage rate for each census office. The Census Bureau has not yet set wage rates for the next census.
In 2010, the Census Bureau also paid work-related expenses, including mileage, to approximately 700,000 temporary census workers. Although the federal rate for mileage reimbursement stood at 55 cents a mile in 2010, many census workers billed at a higher previous rate of 58.5 cents a mile. This resulted in cost overruns. The next census will take place in 2020.