2020 census holds the key to money, power in America

Government records show more than a quarter of the people in Florida did not respond to the last census 10 years ago, costing the state a fortune in federal grant funds.

Now, federal and state officials are urging everyone in Florida to participate in the upcoming 2020 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau is already recruiting an army of doorknockers, known as enumerators, across the state, and people are lining up for interviews.  

“They feel it's good work and good pay, especially the pay rate is very good for those particular positions,” said CareerSource Pinellas’ April Torregiante. 

The positions pay $17 an hour, offer flexible hours, and entail mission-critical work for our country.  

In March, the government will send letters urging people to fill out the survey online or mail back the printed form. Then the enumerators will track down people who don't respond. 

Their counts determine how many U.S. lawmakers represent each state and how much government money each community gets.

Private developers use the same data to figure out where to build new stores and subdivisions. 

The enumerators face a variety of challenges. Their mission includes looking for people who may not want to be found and counting people in places where people tend to come and go, including marinas, RV parks, extended stay hotels, and homeless shelters. 

This will be the first census conducted mostly online, and the Census Bureau is relying on new systems to get it done. The federal government said it determined the data is a high-risk target for hackers.

"The two countries I would worry about most with this would be China and Russia," said cybersecurity expert Morgan Wright. 

The Russian military used hackers to interfere in our 2016 election. With the census, Russia and other adversaries could try to interfere with the process we use to drive spending decisions and the makeup of Congress for the next 10 years. 

To learn more about working for the U.S. Census Bureau, visit https://2020census.gov/en/jobs/how-to-apply.html.