Census recruiting in Oak Park: ‘A call to action’

By Guest Writer Erich Luepke

UPDATE: If you would like to learn more about working for the Census, and believe you can help our community outreach efforts, please email the author of this piece at Erich.d.luepke@2020census.gov.

Erich Luepke is an Oak Park resident recruiting people to apply for jobs with the 2020 Census. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Oak Park Public Library or the Board of Library Trustees.

Oak Parkers wanted to apply for census jobs

The 2020 Census is seeking more than 600 residents of Oak Park and surrounding neighborhoods to apply for jobs. Employment with the census can take many forms. It could be answering calls in an office, canvassing door-to-door, or building an effective team in the field. It’s more than likely that you or someone you know would benefit from this unique opportunity. Census jobs offer highly competitive pay, flexible hours, paid training, and paid commuting. To our community, though, they offer even more.

My name is Erich, and I’m a lifelong resident of Oak Park. I joined the census team last summer because I believe a fair, effective census will empower underrepresented people across the country. In fact, the municipal and state services we all depend on need the census. The Chicago Urban League reports that an undercount would lead to a decrease in federal funding for Illinois, including about $122 million in cuts to Medicaid each year. To our community, each census form is literally worth its weight in gold.

Census jobs offer residents an easy opportunity to enter the workforce, supplement their income, and make professional connections. Employees will get more than money, though, because census work comes with some surprising perks. You may get to practice a foreign language, explore new places, or get regular light exercise. Working door to door, you will discover new and exciting things about your neighborhood and the people who live there.

Apply online at 2020Census.gov/jobs, and check out the FAQ I put together below to go over questions you might have about working for the census.

Frequently asked questions: Working with the census


  • Highly competitive pay, with paid training and transportation to work
  • Flexible work schedule, starting in early 2020 and going into the fall
  • Door-to-door work in Oak Park and surrounding areas; office jobs also available
  • More than 600 applicants wanted to apply from Oak Park by the end of February
  • No resume required

Do I qualify for a job with the census, and how do I apply?

Go to 2020census.gov/jobs to apply. We will consider anyone age 18 and older for work with the census. If you want to talk in person, you can visit us in the Main Library Idea Box—we’re here to help. See all days, times »

What will I do as a census taker?

You will approach and collect census information from people at their homes. You will work in and around your neighborhood following up with people who didn’t answer their census forms. The length of employment is limited; most census jobs begin in the spring, and may continue no later than September.

What about the pay?

For up-to-date pay information where you live, please visit the 2020 Census jobs website or inquire with me in person in the Main Library Idea Box (see all days and times). While I can’t quote the hourly rate here, I can quote the reactions I get when people hear it, and it’s usually along the lines of “Wow.”  Remember that training and transportation will be compensated, and that supervisory positions pay more.

I’m too busy. How could this job work for me?

We can work with the time you can offer us—the position can be as few as 5 or 10 hours a week and as many as 40 hours. You will communicate with your supervisor what hours work for you, around your schedule. We prefer applicants who can work during evenings and weekends. Your circumstances could change in a few months, so it doesn’t hurt to apply anyway.

I receive benefits like SNAP, Medicaid, and CHIP. If I work for the census, could I lose those benefits?

The State of Illinois accepted a waiver from the federal government to exclude any income you will earn from the census for the purpose of qualifying for these benefits. That means you will not lose these specific benefits because of the extra money you’ll earn from the census.

What about the citizenship question? Is the census used to target vulnerable populations?

The citizenship question is not on the 2020 Census, as it was improperly implemented. All census employees swear an oath not to make public any personally identifying information of any applicant or respondent—that’s any information that could identify you specifically. It is a crime for any government or private institution to use or distribute census information about specific people.

Do you have any office jobs?

We do! You could work as a supervisor office manager or an information technology expert with competitive pay rates. For job openings with our census offices, please search through usajobs.gov.

When can I become a census taker?

The first step is to go to the 2020 Census jobs website and complete an application as soon as possible. The application window closes by the end of February. The application requires you to fill out an online form. The census will contact you by phone and email if you are selected for employment; most employees are hired in the spring and work in the spring and summer.

Who will I work for?

As an enumerator, you will be working for the census office under a field supervisor, who should be from your area and understand your community well. You will not work for a political appointee or private contractor. If you want to be a supervisor yourself, you can indicate so in your enumerator application.

How else can I support the census in Oak Park?

Answer your form online, by mail, or by phone by April 1, Census Day. More than anything, get the word out! We’d love the help of community organizations hosting events in the Oak Park area to help spread the word out about census jobs. Please email me at Erich.d.luepke@2020census.gov if you believe you can help our community outreach efforts.