Last week, one of the millions of workers hired by Census 2010 to parade around the country counting Americans blew the whistle on some statistical tricks.
The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.
Below, I have a couple more readers who worked for Census 2010 and have tales to tell.
But first, this much we know.
Each month Census gives Labor a figure on the number of workers it has hired. That figure goes into the closely followed monthly employment report Labor provides. For the past two months the hiring by Census has made up a good portion of the new jobs.
Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.
One hour! A month! So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor . (I’ve been unable to get Census to explain this to me.)
Here’s a note from a Census worker — this one from Manhattan:
“John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census.
“I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.
“I have been paid more to train all four times than I have been paid to actually produce results. These are my tax dollars and your tax dollars at work.
“A few months ago I was trained for three days and offered five hours of work counting the homeless. Now, I am knocking (on) doors trying to find the people that have not returned their Census forms. I worked the 2000 Census. It was a far more organized venture.
“Have to run and meet my crew leader, even though with this rain I did not work today. So I can put in a pay sheet for the hour or hour and a half this meeting will take. Sincerely, C.M.”
And here’s another:
“John: I worked for (Census) and I was paid $18.75 (an hour) just like Ms. Naomi Cohn from your article.
“I worked for about six weeks or so and I picked the hours I wanted to work. I was checking the work of others. While I was classifying addresses, another junior supervisor was checking my work.
“In short, we had a “checkers checking checkers” quality control. I was eventually let go and was told all the work was finished when, in fact, other people were being trained for the same assignment(s).
“I was re-hired about eight months later and was informed that I would have to go through one week of additional training.
“On the third day of training, I got sick and visited my doctor. I called my supervisor and asked how I can make up the class. She informed me that I was ‘terminated.’ She elaborated that she had to terminate three other people for being five minutes late to class.
“I did get two days’ pay and I am sure the ‘late people’ got paid also. I think you would concur that this is an expensive way to attempt to control sickness plus lateness. I am totally convinced that the Census work could be very easily done by the US Postal Service.