Census takers want to make sure Alaska Natives don’t go undercounted

Federal recruiters seek workers at AFN Convention

Federal recruiters seeking workers for the upcoming 2020 Alaska census will be on hand at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Fairbanks Oct. 17-19. They want to be sure Alaska Natives and American Indians don’t go undercounted, as has happened in the past.

The census count officially begins in Alaska on Jan. 21 at Toksook Bay.

“During the 2010 Census, about 6 to 8 percent of Alaska Native/American Indians were undercounted,” said Donna Bach, Alaska Tribal Partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau.

“If you estimate 6 to 8 percent of $3.2 billion, considering that a large portion of most remote Alaska identifies as am indigenous group, that’s a lot of money left on the table,” Bach told Laura Tanis, in an interview for the Sept. 13 issue of In The Loop, the online newsletter of the Aleutians East Borough.

More than $675 billion is distributed nationwide annually for federal programs, based on census numbers, Bach said.

“Just think of bypass mail, Head Start programs, community development block grants and community development quota programs,” she said. “Those dollars are huge for these programs.”

State, local and tribal governments use census information for planning and allocating funds for new school construction, libraries, highway safety, public transportation systems, new roads and bridges, location of policy and fire departments, social service programs, childcare centers, services for the elderly, housing, and job training.

The census also helps businesses decide where to locate, which can translate into more jobs and growing local economies. The census totals also determine how many seats a state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. States use the numbers to allocate seats in their legislatures too.

“So, leveraging your voice as trusted community members to highlight and encourage participation in the 2020 Census is a priority initiative,” Bach said.

Census workers make $25 an hour during training and $28 an hour for the time dedicated to knocking on doors.

Jessica Curtis, recruitment manager for Alaska, said the easiest way to apply is online at 2020census.gov/en/jobs. Applicants can also learn more by calling 844-801-8130.