Census gears up in Southeast

Mayor John Suthers speaks about the importance of the 2020 Census during a press conference Friday, Oct. 25. The U.S. Census Bureau operates an office in Mission Trace at the corner of Hancock Expressway and Academy Boulevard, and is seeking employees from the community. [Express photo/Regan Foster].

Bureau seeks staff for Mission Trace office, count

The 2020 Census won’t start until mid-March, but the U.S. Census Bureau is already gearing up for the constitutional count by setting up shop in one of the most historically under-tallied parts of the city, Southeast.

Mayor John Suthers announced Friday morning that the Southern Region Census Office is now open in Mission Trace, and it needs staff. The bureau is expected to hire some 4,000 temporary workers in El Paso County and about 382 in Teller County in the coming months, to help make sure every resident is properly counted.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of filling out the census and providing and accurate count,” Suthers said during a media event announcing the opening. “Even a 1.3 percent swing in either direction could make a difference in how many congressional seats Colorado has in the 2020s and how much [federal] funding it could get.”

That’s because the U.S. House of Representatives divvies up its 435 members based on populations. It’s no secret that Colorado Springs’ population has been booming in recent years, and Suthers estimated that if 100 percent of the city and county were counted, it could top 500,000 residents. That, he predicted, could be the tipping point to the Centennial State adding an eighth member to its U.S. House delegation.

The federal government also divides up roughly $880 billion in educational, health care and other programmatic funding based on a state’s population, so an accurate count could mean more fiscal support.

“When you consider how much money is at stake, it’s about $2,300 per person,” he said.

But that’s all a few months off.

In the meantime, the Census Bureau is on the hunt for thousands of employees who can help make sure that the counts are as accurate as possible. Digital applications are now being accepted online at 2020census.gov/jobs. For a census taker position in El Paso County, the pay starts at $16.50 per hour, with positions being offered around the start of the calendar year, according to the Census website.

Job descriptions and applications can be found in English and Spanish (en Español). The bureau also offers information by calling 855-568-2020, and a job fair and hiring event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Library 21C, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive.

Sarah Johnson

“We’re trying to get into your neighborhoods so it’s neighbor to neighbor, pastor to congregation.” — Colorado Springs City Clerk Sarah Johnson

Laurie Cipriano, media specialist for the Denver-based Dallas Regional Census Center, said the bureau is committed to hiring from within the community.

The new Southern Region Census Office will serve Colorado from El Paso County south to the New Mexico border and from Kansas to the Western Slope.

For Colorado Springs City Clerk Sarah Johnson, opening the office represents a major milestone in an ongoing effort to build momentum ahead of the count. She was tasked with forming a broad-based coalition that could educate, inform and encourage area residents to make sure they were counted.

From this effort arose the Pikes Peak Area Complete Count Committee. It includes nearly 50 El Paso County leaders in business, education, the military, minority groups, the arts, nonprofits, healthcare, government, faith groups, neighborhoods, media and young professionals.

In the coming months, Johnson said, those and other advocates will be hitting the streets, pulpits, classrooms and beyond to explain how important the Census is not just to the government but to the citizens it represents.

“We’re trying to get into your neighborhoods so it’s neighbor to neighbor, pastor to congregation,” she said. “To the person on the street trying to make enough money to keep a roof over their head, it’s ‘Why does this matter to me?’”

Well as Suthers pointed out, federal dollars for programs such as public education and health care are allocated to states based on population. But Johnson had a more succinct reason.

“You matter,” she said.


Check it out
Who: U.S. Census Bureau
What: Job fair and hiring event
When: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26
Where: Library 21C, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive
Info: coloradosprings.gov/pikespeakcensus

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