Help count and get paid.
The U.S. Census Bureau is in the midst of hiring more than 2,000 Southwest Florida residents to help canvas local communities starting May 1.
“These folks will be going door-to-door trying to get the questionnaires filled out,” said Edwin E. Frost, manager for the census’ Fort Myers office.
But before they can be hired, Frost said, prospective Census employees need to take an employment test.
“Once they test, they go into the eligible hiring pool,” Frost said, adding that candidates are ranked depending on their test scores.
Frost, whose office will hire people in Collier, Hendry and part of Lee counties, said the new census workers would be put through training before heading out to the field May 1.
The census’ Punta Gorda office will handle the hiring for Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Alva.
In this economy, every little bit helps with jobs, Career and Services Centers of Southwest Florida spokeswoman Barbara Hartman said.
“For people that have been out of work for awhile, it gives them an opportunity to get back into the work force,” Hartman said.
She said the centers, with offices in Clewiston, Fort Myers, Immokalee, Naples and Port Charlotte, have been working closely with the U.S. Census Bureau and that the response from prospective employees has been positive.
The job pays anywhere from $10 to $25 per hour.
“The wage range is pretty good and many people are using it as a stopgap for work history,” said Hartman, adding that working for the federal government does look good on a resume. “Even though the positions are temporary it’s a very valuable occupation.”
Southwest Florida’s unemployment rate remains above the state and national average, she said.
Hartman said February statistics showed that Collier County’s unemployment rate hovered at 12.6 percent and Lee County’s was at 13.9 percent.
Meanwhile, according to Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation, the state’s unemployment rate was 12.2 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put the national unemployment average at 9.7 percent.
All showed a hike from where they were last year, Hartman said.
“We’ve been one of the hardest-hit areas in the country,” she said. “All of our counties have had a significant increase in their unemployment rates.”
Last year at this time, Hartman said Collier was at 9 percent unemployment, Lee was at 11.1 percent, Florida was at 9.2 percent and the national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent.
But the Census Bureau will not be hosting any “job fairs” for the 2,080 positions that need to be filled. Instead, employment tests are scheduled for April 8, 15, 22 and 29 at the American Legion 38, 1857 Jackson St., Fort Myers.
In addition, Frost said people can call to arrange to take the test in their county.
However, if someone shows up at the test site without an appointment, Frost said they won’t be turned away.
“We’re constantly looking for folks,” Frost said, adding that the census would continue to hire personnel during the next few months. “But the most massive hiring is taking place right now.”
__ Connect with Elysa Batista at www.naplesnews.com/staff/elysa_batista
For more information on employment opportunities with the U.S. Census or in Southwest Florida-
U.S. Census: The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting temporary, part-time census takers for the 2010 Census. These short-term jobs offer good pay, flexible hours, paid training, and reimbursement for authorized work-related expenses, such as mileage incurred while conducting census work. To apply for a job and take the Census employment test call 239-689-2100 or visit http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/.
Career and Service Centers of Southwest Florida: One-stop career centers designed to provide individuals with access to employment, education and training services from different programs and providers at a single location. The center has self-service activities as well as staff-assisted services, designed to meet particular customer needs. Call 239-225-2500 or visit www.careerandservicecenter.org/index.htm.