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January 17, 2000
Census Officials Seek Greater Ethnic Participation
R S Shankar
As Kenneth Prewitt, the director of the United States Census Bureau, travels across America, he makes a special appeal to minorities -- especially recent immigrants -- to make sure they are counted.
With millions of census questionnaires set to be mailed out in mid-March, community groups are alerting immigrants, ethnic minorities and even the homeless to be counted. To lead a $ 160 million ad campaign, the Census Bureau hired the New York advertising firm Young & Rubicam, which then subcontracted several other agencies to target the main minority groups -- African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and American Indians. Advertisements about the census have been appearing in every major Indian American publication.
"Every community has a stake in being counted correctly," says Subash Razdan, one of the half a dozen Indian Americans officially chosen by the Census Bureau to run its campaign and involve the Indian American community. A correct count will raise the profile of a community with politicians and businesses, he points out. "There is a strength in numbers."
Prewitt recently said huge demographic shifts in the last decade, resulted largely by immigration from Asia and Latin America, will make the United States a majority-minority country by 2050, when no racial group will make up more than 50 per cent of the population.
According to the projections, the nation's resident population -- 273 million on July 1, 1999 -- is projected to reach 404 million in 2050 and 571 million in 2100.
The Asian and Pacific Islander population, meanwhile, would more than triple, from 10.9 million in 1999 to 37.6 million in 2050. Its percentage of the total population would rise from 4 per cent now to 9 per cent in 2050.
"We are creating the first world nation, the first country made up of people from every other country," he said. "We need a complete picture if we are going to build the kind of society we want to build."
Between 1999 and 2050, the total number of foreign-born would more than double, increasing from 26 million to 53.8 million. The proportion of the nation's population that is foreign-born may rise from 10 per cent in 1999 to 13 per cent in 2050.
"Even though childbearing levels in the United States remain quite close to the level needed only to replace the population, the increasing number of potential parents and continued migration from abroad would be sufficient to add nearly 300 million people during the next century," said Census Bureau analyst Frederick W Hollmann.
"Because the Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the US are younger than the nation as a whole and because they continue to receive international migrants, these populations will become increasingly prominent."
Jaishree Abichandani, who is working with the Regional Census Bureau in New York, says many social welfare organizations are not aware of the need among South Asian communities for help. There are hundreds of families from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who need governmental assistance, she points out.
"But unless we provide statistical evidence, we are not going to get enough money from Washington or the respective states," she says.
Indian community leaders are also urging fellow Indians to take up temporary census jobs which are available in thousands.
Among the jobs available are:
Census takers: They are responsible for locating households, listing addresses, as well as conducting interviews with respondents. Census takers usually work in their own communities. In order to find people at home, census takers need to be able to work evenings and weekends.
A census taker is trained to locate and list addresses, explain the purpose of the census to residents, ask questions as worded on census forms, and record data on census forms. Census takers meet with the crew leader daily to submit completed assignments and discuss progress.
Nationwide, census taker pay-rates range from $ 8.25 to $ 18.50 per hour, depending on the area. Census takers will also be paid for mileage and training.
Crew leaders: A crew leader supervises, trains, observes, and reviews the work of a team of census takers. The crew leader meets with the census takers on a daily basis.
Nationwide, crew leader pay-rates range from $ 9.75 to $ 20 per hour, depending on the area. Crew leaders will also be paid for mileage and training.
Who can apply: Greencard holders are eligible, unlike in the past. You should be at least 18 years old.(Those ages 16 and 17 may be hired for positions not involving driving, so long as they meet state and local employment requirements.).
Would be workers will have to take a written test of basic skills, pass a security background check. They must agree not to engage in any partisan political activity within 24 hours of performing census work.
Most census takers and crew leaders jobs are expected to have a reliable vehicle.
For more information, check, www.census.gov or call, 1-888-325-7733.
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