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Archive for Sunday, April 4, 2010

Census jobs provide short but welcome opportunity

April 4, 2010

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— As census workers gear up to count us, they are counting themselves lucky to be employed.

This once-a-decade temporary work force is giving a timely boost to the battered job market. Census workers accounted for nearly a third of the jobs added in March, when hiring occurred at the fastest pace in three years.

A copy of a 2010 Census form is shown Thursday at a Census Day event at the Caldwell Housing Authority in Caldwell, Idaho. Census employment offers the work force a welcome boost.

A copy of a 2010 Census form is shown Thursday at a Census Day event at the Caldwell Housing Authority in Caldwell, Idaho. Census employment offers the work force a welcome boost.

Over the next two months, another 600,000 to 700,000 census jobs will be added, putting $10 to $25 an hour into the pockets of some desperate job seekers.

Although these jobs will only last through mid-July, economists say they will provide a fortuitous stream of income to families and act as an employment bridge until summer, when more private employers are expected to ramp up hiring.

The census hiring also comes in a year when President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package will peter out. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that stimulus spending added more than 1 million jobs last year.

“It comes at a good time because you’re transitioning from an economy that’s slowly recovering to sustainable growth,” said John Canally, an economist at Boston-based LPL Financial. “This is a good patchwork until then.”

Still, the census paychecks won’t have a meaningful impact on the overall economy.

The government has set aside $7.8 billion to conduct the census. That pales compared with last year’s stimulus package of $862 billion.

Yet the impact of these jobs cannot be overstated for people who were out of work.

“Census to the rescue,” said 24-year-old Cierra Edwards of Toledo, Ohio. “I was so far behind. Rent started stacking up, bills, diapers.”

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