Census Office Opens in Meridian

Every ten years, a census is taken in the United State. The results from this year's count will determine how more than $400 million dollars in federal funds are dispersed.

The Meridian office covers 24 Mississippi counties. With the current state of the economy, local leaders say perhaps the numbers matter more now than ever.

"We have lots of projects moving forward in our community that we would like to see through, but we're going to need federal monies to do them," said Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry. "So, we've got to make sure that our numbers are high enough to support those efforts."

"We have a long list of things that we want to do. We need every advantage and the counting of every person is an advantage," said Mayor Will Hill of Louisville.

With the goal of counting everyone, the Census Bureau needs to hire hundreds of people for temporary work that lasts an estimated 6 to 8 weeks.

"We're going to recruit about 5,000 people, but out of that 5,000, we hope we can get, hire about 2,000 for this office," said Kat Smith, Census Bureau media specialist. "And most of them will work out in the field from their homes. They'll get mileage reimbursements and all of that, and about 50 of them will work in this office."

The starting salary for those jobs is $10.50 an hour. For many of them, their work will not start until after the initial census forms are mailed.

The forms that will be mailed to residents has 10 basic questions. It asks for your name, your race and how many people live in your home but nothing about your Social Security number or any account information.

"You give more information to Blockbuster to rent a video than you give to the government for this procedure, the census count," said Smith.

The forms will be mailed starting in mid-March. The deadline to return them is Apr. 1, 2010. Anyone who does not return a form can expect to receive a visit from an official census taker.

"It's only ten questions this year," said Smith. "That will take ten minutes that will affect the next ten years of your life."

Anyone interested in applying for a job with the Census Bureau must first call 1-866-861-2010.


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