Census flush with top talent from The City 

It’s hard to imagine there are benefits to a high unemployment rate, but San Franciscans’ thirst for jobs has been a boon for the 2010 census.

“We have former executives and CEOs, Ph.Ds, senior managers, people with management skills [applying for jobs],” said Sonny Le, a regional U.S. Census Bureau spokesman. “We have the best candidates ever.”

And there are lots of them, he said.

With a tight job market in The City, applications for employment through San Francisco’s two census offices have been streaming in, Le said.

As census forms are mailed out beginning today, five people have been secured for every job with the 2010 count in San Francisco, about 15,000 people for up to 3,000 jobs, he said. Those folks aren’t only applicants, they are people who took the online test, passed an interview and cleared background checks, Le said.

The Census Bureau doesn’t count the total number of applicants, he said.

That the interest is high is not surprising. A part-time gig as a census taker pays $22 an hour, the Census Bureau said. In January, 46,900 people were jobless in The City, or 10.3 percent of the work force, according to the California Employment Development Department.

Visiting homes to ensure everyone in The City has been counted isn’t easy. Every neighborhood is diverse, and door-knockers need to communicate and relate to members of individual communities.

In the Richmond district, for instance, the need is for candidates who speak English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian or a combination. More than 140 languages are spoken in San Francisco, according to city data.

Even so, while other parts of the country have reportedly found it difficult to find qualified multilingual candidates, the many applicants in the diverse Bay Area have been a good fit, Le said.

“We have people who are bilingual, trilingual and sometimes [speak more languages],” he said.

Folks who don’t mail back forms before April 1 will get a knock on the door from a census taker, who will ask the questions from the form.

Richard Johnson, an employment program manager who works at the state employment department’s Turk and Franklin streets office, said when recruiters conducted sessions in his office, the rooms were near capacity.

“It was very popular,” Johnson said. “It pays well for what you are doing — good wages at all levels.”



Ready for the head count

Forms for the 2010 census are being mailed out today.

4.2% San Francisco’s population change, 2000-08
808,976 Population*
810,000 Minimum goal for 2010 census
58.1% Whites
31.8% Asians
14.1% Hispanics
6.8% Blacks

* 2008 estimate

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, S.F. 2010 Census

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