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Lt. Gov Cooney

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney on Tuesday invited Montanans to apply for a variety of 2020 census jobs. Cooney is acting as chair of the Montana Complete County Committee. 

The 2010 census created more than 600 temporary or part-time jobs throughout Montana, and recruiting for the 2020 count is now underway. 

“In 440 days the census count will begin,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, acting as chair of the Montana Complete Count Committee. “We encourage anyone interested to apply.”

Many office jobs will open in 2019, with field operations jobs opening in 2020. The exact number of jobs has not yet been determined. 

These jobs aim to be competitive in pay and conscious of scheduling. Montana Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Galen Hollenbaugh said the jobs will pay $13.50 to $15 per hour. He wants interested parties to apply as early as possible because of the federal background check required for government employment.

Pam Haxby-Cote, director of the Montana Department of Commerce, said the part-time workers going door-to-door will be doing one of the most important jobs in Montana for the next 10 years. The census brings in more than $2.5 billion dollars to the state of Montana. And the number of citizens in Montana directly impacts federal funding for more than 200 programs in the state.

The state population also determines congressional apportionment.

For the first time ever, citizens will have the option to complete the census online or via traditional ballot.

To apply for census jobs, applicants can visit the U.S. Census Bureau website (www.census.gov), the Montana Department of Labor and Industry website (http://dli.mt.gov), or any Montana job services site.

Hollenbaugh and Cooney both mentioned Montana’s tight labor market and low unemployment rates. When asked if they believed all of the census jobs would be filled, Cooney said, “I’m confident that we will be able to fill the roles.”

Cooney said the committee hopes to attract people seeking part-time work, including students and retirees, to the evening door-knocker positions.

The lieutenant governor also addressed the hard-to-reach communities in Montana like tribal reservations, rural areas and the homeless population.

“We are going to use every tool we have available to engage these communities,” he said.

The committee has been working hard on tribal outreach. Leonard Smith, complete count committee co-chair and Native American Development Corp. executive director, has been actively working with the eight tribal nations of Montana on outreach for the census.

Mary Craigle, chief for the Research and Information Services Bureau, said Smith has been busy engaging these communities.

Kathie Bailey, executive director of Snowy Mountain Development Corp., acts as the other co-chair of the Complete Count Committee and is in charge of rural community outreach.

“We knew we would need to focus on these areas so we appointed these co-chairs,” Cooney said.

Cooney believes that having community members fill the census jobs in rural or tribal areas will help encourage census participation.

“We have been mindful of these challenges,” he said.

In response to a question from a reporter, Craigle said nobody at the state level knows whether a citizenship question will be included on the census. Congress is tasked with deciding the final census questions by March.

Sixteen states have filed litigation that opposes including the question on the census, arguing that undocumented immigrants may not fill out a census form if they fear a visit from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This could skew accurate population counts, resulting in less federal funding for states that may have a significant undocumented immigrant population.

Montana did not officially file a complaint against the question, but Gov. Steve Bullock has spoken against it in the past. 

Craigle said Complete Count Committees are popping up all across Montana in large and small communities. She credited these committees as those who ensure a complete and accurate census.

Recently Helena and Lewis and Clark County approved the formation of a joint city/county Complete Count Committee.

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Education and Business Reporter

Education and Business reporter for Helena Independent Record.

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