Community leaders emphasize census importance

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Community leaders are promoting the importance of the upcoming U.S. Census count. They gathered in Gulfport Tuesday morning to help mark the official opening of the census office on Seaway Road.

Next year's count is critical for the distribution of government dollars and the drawing of political districts. The upcoming count also means job opportunities

The City of Biloxi's Vincent Creel calls the upcoming count critical. The numbers will likely confirm the population shift and political clout movement to the north.

"Those people who live north of the Bay of Biloxi, they're going to have a stronger voice, they're going to have a louder voice and they're going to have a more effective voice. But that's only if they respond to this census," said Creel.

Gulfport's mayor said it's important that everyone emphasize the importance of being counted, especially to those who might be skittish.

"They don't understand the process," Mayor George Schloegel said. "They're afraid to register their name. They think negative things will come from them being registered. And we've got to break that barrier, to let our neighbors know it's important they be counted."

"And we're hiring all over, in every community throughout the state of Mississippi," Census District Manager Jeff Behler said.

Those jobs are mainly the door-to-door census takers. An army of enumerators will help gather the necessary information.

"Two thousand jobs. Our pay is $14.75 per hour, plus paid training, mileage reimbursement. And the jobs on and off last anywhere from six to 12 weeks," Behler said.

Belinda Ryle wants one of those door to door jobs.

"I have a girlfriend that actually worked with the census. And she came to my house and I asked her some questions. And it sounded interesting," said Ryle.

In this tight job market, the census employment opportunities are welcome news.

"I've been looking for the last couple of months. So, I'm hoping this will be the one," said Darren Brown of Gulfport.

Census job applicants must be 18-years-old, a U.S. Citizen and pass a basic aptitude test. If you're interested in working for the census, call 1-866-861-2010 for more information.

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