The federal government’s efforts to recruit workers for the 2020 U.S. Census got off to a rocky start Tuesday when two scheduled events never got off the ground, and Census Bureau staffers at another event said they couldn’t talk about it.

The recruitment event at the WorkSource Oregon employment office in downtown Roseburg was scheduled to take place Tuesday morning, but workers at the office said that was news to them. Robert Petchell, manager at the WorkSource site, said there had apparently been a mix-up in communications with his bosses.

A second recruitment event scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Roseburg Senior Center on Southeast Stephens Street had similar issues. A staffer at the senior center said she didn’t know anything about a recruitment event. She did say a Census Bureau worker came by during the scheduled event, dropped off some brochures and tacked a flier to the bulletin board.

“There seems to be some confusion here,” she said.

The Umpqua Community College event was scheduled to be held in the school’s former cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. At a little after noon, there were four students lounging in the space while two Census Bureau workers talked between themselves at a table set up at the entrance. When asked how the recruitment was going, one of the staffers apologized and said they did not have permission to talk to the media.

One of those staffers, Joni Kreutz-Edwards, called The News-Review a couple of hours later and said she now had permission to talk about the event. Kreutz-Edwards said about two dozen students studying for their GED stopped by the census recruitment table and picked up brochures and asked questions.

Kreutz-Edwards also worked at a census recruitment event at the Downtown Roseburg Street Festival on Oct. 13.

“That was wonderful. We had a great response there,” she said. “It just depends on the venue.”

Despite the slow start, Misty Slater, a spokewoman for the Census Bureau, said being a census taker is important work for several reasons.

“As a census taker, you’ll know that you’re earning competitive wages and serving your community in a way that will help for decades to come,” Slater said. “Census takers will go door to door to collect responses in person from households that do not respond to the 2020 Census. These jobs are critical in helping to ensure people respond to the 2020 Census, shaping the future of our country.”

The bureau needs to hire 500,000 census takers across the country. It is a temporary, part-time job that offers flexible hours, paid training, and weekly paychecks, Slater said.

Applicants are encouraged to apply now, she said. The bureau will begin selecting census takers in January and start paid training in March. Submitting an application now gives the bureau time to complete the selection process and background check before job training starts, Slater said.

More area recruitment events are planned, but Slater said she didn’t have the schedule yet.

Scott Carroll can be reached at or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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