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Thousands fewer Census jobs during “final push”

Monday, Sep 28, 2020

* Associated Press, September 18th

Two weeks after a federal judge prohibited the U.S. Census Bureau from winding down the 2020 census, a manager in Illinois instructed employees to get started with layoffs, according to an audio of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

During a conference call Thursday, the Chicago area manager told supervisors who report to him that they should track down census takers who don’t currently have any cases, collect the iPhones they use to record information, and bid them goodbye. The manager did not respond to an email from the AP.

“I would really like to get a head start on terminating these people,” he said. “All of these inactives that we have, we need to get rid of them. So hunt down your inactives, collect their devices, get them terminated and off of our lists.”

It was unclear whether such actions would violate U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s temporary restraining order prohibiting the Census Bureau from winding down field operations while she considers a request to extend the head count by a month.

The judge took further action late last week.

* Sophie Sherry at the Tribune on Friday

Despite assurances from U.S. Census Bureau officials that there would be a final push to reach people this month, the latest data shows the Chicago region employed around 3,000 fewer people the week of Sept. 6-12 compared with the previous week. The move raises more questions about the reliability and completeness of a count that will determine Illinois’ representation in Congress and the state’s and city’s share of billions of dollars in federal aid over the next 10 years.

Late Thursday, a federal judge ordered the Census Bureau to extend its deadline from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31. The Trump administration is expected to appeal, but the judge’s order prohibits the agency from winding down operations until the case is resolved

The Chicago field office would not comment on the recent cutback of workers, but an official in Washington, D.C., said one reason might be that the Chicago area is actually faring very well in the census, with much of its population already counted, contrary to what every local official has been saying. […]

Olson said Cook County is about 90% counted when you combine responses from households and visits by census workers to homes that didn’t respond. But experts say that’s still not good enough.

Sherrie Taylor, interim head of the State Data Center Network, which works with the bureau, said the agency should not be satisfied with anything less than 99%. “Until there is 99% in every single tract, there’s questions about the reliability of the data,” she said. “In a sample survey, you’re happy to get a 20% response and that’s really good, but this is much more serious than that.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - SAP - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 10:34 am:

    Geez, we really are turning into a banana republic.

  2. - Curious - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 10:41 am:

    I filled out the census online as soon as it was available. About a month ago we had a census worker come to the door “double checking” our census respose. I didn’t know they did that, and I’m curious if that’s the norm??? I’ll add that we live out in the country so it’s not like they would be able to cover a lot of houses in our area.

  3. - Last Bull Moose - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 11:46 am:

    Torn. Don’t trust Trump or any federal agency where he is involved. Still. The census date was April 1. We are now 7 months past then. Seems long enough.

  4. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 11:47 am:

    America is working like a clock…with low battery.


  5. - ArchPundit - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 1:12 pm:

    ===l add that we live out in the country so it’s not like they would be able to cover a lot of houses in our area.

    It’s not the norm, but it is something the Census does. They take a sample of responses and verify them to ensure there is valid data. If the data varies by some amount they know they have a problem.

  6. - PublicServant - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 1:37 pm:

    === Geez, we really are turning into a banana republic.===


  7. - Anonanonsir - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 1:52 pm:

    This is definitely an area where you’d like to see Illinois in the top ten. If the numbers reported are correct, getting one person on the census rolls could mean about $15,000 in federal funding over a decade.

    As expected, counting Illinoisans is a low priority for the administration. So what can Illinois do about it?

    Dems seem to have plenty of money to spend on state rep ads that only apply to about 1% of the viewers. You’d think that they and their allies might focus more attention on an issue with clearer potential benefits.

  8. - Allow me to be anonymous today - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==The census date was April 1. We are now 7 months past then. Seems long enough.==

    Without COVID it would have been done by now. We enumerators in the field didn’t get a good start until mid August because our work was delayed by the virus. One reason there are 3000 fewer of us is that this was a summer job for teachers and college students. Every day I work there are fewer cases on my list. I dont have enough cases today for 8 hours work.

  9. - Downstate Illinois - Monday, Sep 28, 20 @ 7:14 pm:

    Curious. The census selects 1 out of every 10 questionnaires to review as part of their quality control efforts. Folks who filled out their questionnaire online but didn’t have the special code that came with their paper version also get visited in order to collect GPS coordinates so the bureau knows where to place the data on the ground.

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