With federal aid and legislative representation on the line, Suffolk County officials held a job fair Thursday seeking to attract people to work part-time for the 2020 U.S. census.
Dozens of people showed up at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood to apply for positions or learn about the possibilities.
The jobs will pay between $17 and $23 an hour, said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County.
Baird-Streeter said Suffolk did not get as full a count as officials hoped for in the 2010 census, so they are trying to bolster their effort this time. She said billions of dollars in federal aid and grants that go to county and local governments are at stake nationwide. Much of the funding is determined by census counts.
“We have one opportunity to get it right, which is the 2020 census, and if we don’t we have to wait until 2030,” she said.
Baird-Streeter also said New York State lost two congressional seats as a result of the 2010 census, so officials want to make sure everyone in Suffolk and statewide is counted.
People who come from the local communities will be sought after as census workers, as well as people who are bilingual and can communicate with residents whose first language is not English, she said.
Some census employees could start working as soon as May or June, she said.
Steven Spector, 52, of Shoreham, said he showed up at the job fair because he got laid off from his job at Walmart in East Setauket last week.
“It sounds like a good idea,” he said. “It sounds like I should give it a chance.”
Angela Garcia, 36, of Bay Shore, said she heard about the jobs through the nonprofit social services agency Adelante.
A native of El Salvador, she figured her Spanish would be an asset in the census work.
She has spent the last 10 years at home caring for her disabled son, she said, but, “It’s time for me to go back to work.”
Eileen DeMarle, 75, a retired paralegal from Patchogue, said she worked the 2010 census.
“I loved it,” she said. “I could do it on my own schedule.”