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Census Leaders Prepare 2020 'Dress Rehearsal' In Pierce County

"Mount Rainier from Murray Morgan Bridge" by SounderBruce is licensed under CC by 2.0

Pierce County is one of three places chosen for a test run of the 2020 U.S. Census.

Federal officials plan to test their methodology in a "dress rehearsal" of the 10-year population survey starting next month, said Kori Novy, who is managing Pierce County's test Census.

"We want to test and validate 2020 Census operations, systems, procedures, and field infrastructure," she said.

The other test sites are Providence County, Rhode Island; and Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill, West Virginia. 

Census leaders chose Pierce County for the diversity of its population and housing stock, Novy said.

"The area has a variety of housing types, including group quarters. It's got the military base," she said, referring to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. "We've got vacant units in Pierce County, multi-units and mobile homes. So we were looking to include all of that in a dress rehearsal test."  

She also pointed to a population "with varying demographic characteristics, such as age, race and language spoken at home," she said. 

That gives Census takers an opportunity to practice counting a variety of people in different living situations.

The first step in the test Census is a street-by-street verification of every address in Pierce County, from basement apartments in Tacoma to farmhouses near Mount Rainier. 

Census leaders want to update the federal government's database of all addresses in the county where someone lives or could live in the future.

That means finding addresses not yet on the rolls, including accessory apartments and new homes, as well as deleting addresses that aren't associated with a home. 

Census leaders are hiring about 300 part-time workers for the project at a rate of $15.75 per hour. 

Novy said they're accepting applications through the first week of August. Training begins Aug. 18, and the job is expected to last six to eight weeks, she said. 

Anyone interested in applying can begin the process by calling 888-658-5564, she said. 

Will James reports and produces special projects, including podcasts and series, for KNKX. He created and hosted the Outsiders podcast, chronicling homelessness in Olympia for more than a year, in partnership with The Seattle Times.