Local Census Office Manager Ronald Lindsey was pleased to report recently that the rate of return for census forms in the 18 counties he oversees was the best among all 10 regions of Tennessee.
Lindsey leads about 1,200 employees, some of whom will count inmates, students and seniors where they live in "group quarters."
"For months, we've been taking applications and we'll continue well into April," Lindsey said in his office at 1707 Alpine Drive. "We're getting close to goal, in terms of the number of people applying for jobs."
Jobs will include those of census takers. Also known as enumerators, these temporary jobs include going to the homes of people where no census form has been returned The census taker's job is to speak with the resident and fill out the form for that household.
"May 1 will be when the big door-to-door campaign starts with the non-response follow-up," Lindsey said.
Census takers are hired from the area to be canvassed. It's on the theory that local people know the area and, since they're residents of the territory, they are more likely to be welcomed into homes for interviews.
As a result, the Bureau is looking for people from various communities.
Noting that Shelbyville has a "large Hispanic population," Lindsey said, "We'd like to get some of those folks, too."
The area served by the Columbia Local Census Office includes a section of
Tennessee along its border with Mississippi at Hardeman County to Marion County above the Alabama border.
"Maury and Hickman counties are about as far north as we go," Lindsey said.
Lindsey worked in the field during the 2000 census as a crew leader. Last year he was a field supervisor.
In 2009, census employees were canvassing neighborhoods to make sure they had all the correct addresses. They used a hand-held global positioning system computers and entered addresses to a database maintained by the Census Bureau. Periodically, the hand held units transmit information to the Bureau's database.
Census forms this year are asking for the names, birthdays, relationships and other information about residents.
"The information we collect is to be held as confidential for 72 years," Lindsey said. "That was, I think, when that was considered to be the average lifetime."
Training for the census takers is conducted at Tennessee Career Centers.