Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Census 2010: Impact on Employment

by Bill McBride on 3/02/2010 09:30:00 PM

With all the talk about the impact of the February snow storms on employment, it is worth remembering that the temporary hiring for Census 2010 will also distort the payroll employment numbers.

Luckily the Census Bureau provides a monthly report on net hiring for the decennial census: Census 2010 temporary and intermittent workers

Census Impact on Employment Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the monthly change in Federal government employment during the 2010 census (January in red) and the last two decennial census periods (1990 and 2000).

During the previous two census years, there was a sharp increase in payroll employment in March and April, and a surge in May. And then almost all of the jobs were lost in the June through September period. We should expect a similar pattern this year.

Note: there are reports that the Census Bureau will hire up to 1.4 million people, however that represents some contingency planning, and includes a number of people already hired temporarily in 2009. We can probably expect a couple hundred thousand people added between January through April, and another 500 thousand or so in May. This could push the unemployment rate down slightly, but probably in the 0.1% to 0.2% range.

The Census Bureau is gearing up: Census Takers Begin Hand Delivering 2010 Census Questionnaires to 12 Million U.S. Addresses

About 56,000 census workers today began hand delivering 2010 Census questionnaires to roughly 12 million addresses across the nation, mostly in rural areas where people do not receive mail at the same location as their residence. Most of nation’s 120 million households, about 90 percent of the U.S. population, should look for their 10-question forms to arrive by mail mid-March.
In 2000, 72 percent of households that received a form mailed it back. The mail participation rate is a new measure designed to give a better picture of actual participation by factoring out census forms that the U.S. Postal Service was unable to deliver as addressed. It should be particularly useful in areas with seasonal populations or a large number of vacancies or foreclosures.

“It costs us just 42 cents in a postage paid envelope when households mail back their 2010 Census forms,” Groves said. “The Census Bureau will spend about $25 per person if we have to go out and knock on the doors of households that don’t mail them back.”
A few key points:
  • The 2010 Census will probably add about 30,000 payroll jobs in February.
  • Starting in February, I'll post the headline net payroll numbers, and ex-Census.
  • If you want to reduce the deficit, mail it back!