Census workers in Kentucky are supposed to take a snapshot of everyone living
in the state as of April 1. That’s not easy, with more than 40,000 square miles
of rambling farmlands, big cities, small towns, sprawling suburbs, and steep hills
In late March, people in Kentucky and the rest of the nation will begin receiving their once-a-decade census forms in the mail.
Those who are hard to reach by mail, or don’t respond, will get personal visits from census counters. It’s incredibly important work: the final figures, which need to be reported in January 2001, will be used for everything from determining how government aid is distributed, to how congressional and legislative districts are drawn.
Developing the maps and address lists for a successful count is much more than a one-day job. Preparing for the count has long been a priority of Kentucky census workers.
Marc Bergman, local census office manager for the Covington area, covering northern and central Kentucky, explains: “Using maps and addresses from the previous census, in 1990, we’ve asked local governments in each county to inspect and update these address lists. Each local community got a chance to look at the maps of their own areas, to review them for accuracy, and note changes, such as the addition of new streets and subdivisions or the removal of roads that no longer exist.”
Each of Kentucky’s seven census regions have followed the same procedures.
Census workers have already been driving up and down Kentucky’s roads verifying the addresses on the maps and lists with what they can actually find. Starting this comparison and correction process well in advance of Census 2000 should improve the results of the actual count because there will be fewer last-minute adjustments when census forms are mailed or hand-delivered to the addresses on these lists.
But what if no one is living at a particular address on Census Day?
That’s an especially significant problem for Jan Culwell, local census office manager for the Henderson area. She says, “Here in western Kentucky, our 22-county census area includes Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Since these are resort- and recreation-type communities, our list of addresses includes an unusually large number of homes whose occupants can be described as making their ‘usual home elsewhere.’ Many of these homes are seasonally vacant, and that creates special problems for us.”
Culwell continues, “If we mail out census forms or have a worker drop them off, we don’t want a stack of papers to pile up at someone’s door. We don’t want to accidentally make it evident that no one is living there at census time. When our enumerators go out into the field to deliver forms or assist people in filling them in, we’ll be on the lookout for any problems.”
A concern of Tommy Faulkner, local census office manager in the Corbin district, is hiring enough enumerators to cover all the territory in this mountainous 24-county area. “Some of the counties in this area have very low unemployment,” Faulkner says. “That’s great for our communities, but it does make it more difficult to find people who can work for the census. That’s why we offer a variety of job schedules. In addition to full-time workers on a 40-hour schedule, we’re also looking for people who’d like to work a part-time schedule from 20 hours a week up to the usual 40.”
Faulkner notes there are plenty of opportunities for people who already work a full-time job to work as a part-time census worker, too. “With so many people in the regular work force, often the best time for us to find people at home is in the evenings or on weekends.” Part-time census workers available nights and weekends will be ideal in these situations.
Kentucky census managers are also making plans for difficult spring weather conditions. But the key to the whole project isn’t organizational skills or contingency planning-it’s a spirit of community involvement.
“What makes this job exciting,” says one census manager, “is knowing that the count we get this year will be the basis for so many decisions during the next 10 years. Working with the census is like taking part in a giant civics project-one that will benefit Kentucky for the next decade.”
“In 1980, I saw a newspaper ad that said ‘help your community,'” Christian County native Ruby Lee Holland recalls. “I’d been living here in Hopkinsville since 1973, when I retired from full-time work and wanted to try something new. As an enumerator in 1980 I went from house to house when spring flooding blocked the roads. What a challenge! Sometimes I could see where I needed to go next, but there was nothing but water between me and the next house.
“In 1988, I saw another ad and decided I needed a new challenge,” Holland says with a rich laugh. “I signed on as a field operations supervisor for 21 weeks. Thirty months and four states later I was finally finished with the 1990 census!”
In May 1998, Holland once again signed up with the census, this time as a regional technician. “I teach people how to organize their time, train office managers, and generally lend my expertise in such areas as recruiting workers,” Holland says.
“Now that I’m working on my third census,” Holland says, “I can see that our technology has moved from ‘horse and buggy’ to ‘Model T’ to ‘Corvette.’ The entire United States is now digitized into census mapping blocks with every piece of geography there. What we have to work with today is so superior to anything we had when I first started-it’s great!”-Nancy S. Grant
Census Info on the Web
Here are two Internet Web sites with more information on the 2000 census: www.census.gov
offers everything about census activities, results, and links to other sites.
is the Kentucky State Data Center’s excellent site with Kentucky statistics, predictions,
maps, and more, including info for individual counties.-Nancy S. Grant
Wanted: Map Readers Who Can Keep a Secret
Temporary jobs helping complete Census 2000 are still available throughout Kentucky. Job applicants must provide certain forms of identification (usually a driver’s license and Social Security card), and take a brief test (about 30 minutes) to measure skills such as reading, math, following instructions, and map reading. Everyone who works for the census, whether out in the field or in office situations, is sworn to secrecy-there are severe penalties for revealing any information about the census. All individual census information is confidential-so if you can keep a secret, call this number to learn exactly how to apply for a job with Census 2000: 1-888-325-7733, toll-free anywhere in