T

he 2020 Census is a work in progress in Jackson County, but that work, headed up here by the good folks in the county planning department, is rapidly picking up speed.

The Herald will be offering extensive coverage of the census as it unfolds, but there are three census points we’d like to hammer home today.

First, the census is a massive undertaking, and that undertaking requires manpower. The Census Bureau estimates it needs 845 job applicants from Jackson County, and currently less than half of that number have applied.

Openings include enumerators and their supervisors. You must be a U.S. citizen with a valid email address, a valid Social Security number and be at least 18 years of age. Additionally, you must pass a background check and be registered with the Selective Service or have a valid exemption and complete an application and assessment questions.

Quality training is provided, and the pay is good – enumerators earn $19 an hour in Jackson – and you get paid weekly. Go to 2020census.gov/jobs or call 855-562-2020 to apply or learn more.

The second point – and we’ll be running reminders on this one – is that the census will launch the first of four cohorts of postcard mailings March 12. The four mailings are:

1. Postcard invitation to take the census online.

2. Letter reminder to take the census online or wait for the paper survey.

3. Paper census survey.

4. Reminder letter.

Watch for the card, and do not toss it. Given that the political season is in the phase where it won’t be surprising to see one (or seven) candidate or advocacy group mailings in your box on a given day, come March be sure to slow down a little bit before heading to the recycle bin with your offerings. The best way to keep door knockers from showing up on your steps is to promptly complete the form.

Now, there’s nothing to fear from census workers – there’s no “Census Police” or anything of that nature. But you’ll be inconveniencing yourself and the task of completing the census if you extend the process by inadvertently disposing of the first step.

If you don’t respond to invitations to take the census online or on paper by the end of April, you’ll be visited by a census worker. The last day to be counted is July 31.

The third point is also one we’ll be repeating: Stand up and be counted, because a lot is riding on an accurate enumeration of people in Jackson. Taxpayer dollars sent down to Raleigh up to Washington, D.C., come back down the pipeline to fund schools, services for the elderly, healthcare, public safety, you name it. Businesses also use the data to make determinations on where to locate, and road planners use it to peer into future transportation needs.

Two community meetings on the census are set for March 27 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Jackson County Library, letting people know the timing of the census, what to expect and where to get help, and a host of community partners are lining up to do their part to ensure we get an accurate count.

All told, each person counted in the census equates into about $1,600 in spending. That means, as the census is conducted only once every 10 years, if you chose to “hide” from the census, you’re in effect hiding $16,000 in spending for our community.

That’s a pretty steep price for a few minutes of your time.

Stand up and be counted.