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CHAMPAIGN — If you’d like a temporary job paying $20.50 an hour and you’re willing to talk to people on their doorsteps, has Uncle Sam got a deal for you.

Hundreds of census workers are still needed in Champaign County and others in the area, and the jobs come with paid training and flexible hours across days, nights and weekends, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The application process is being handled online.

Lower unemployment is making it somewhat more challenging to hire enough census takers compared with a decade ago, according to Jeanine Beasley, media coordinator for the regional Census Bureau office in Chicago.

These jobs are good opportunities for college students, those who worked the 2010 Census, anyone with a flexible schedule and teachers who are off during the summer, she said.

The work done by census takers runs from mid-May through July 31, Beasley said.

The public will start receiving invitations and instructions about how to take part in the census starting in mid-March, and census takers will be sent to the homes of people who don’t respond by late April.

How many census takers will be needed in each county won’t be determined until after people have an opportunity to answer the census questions on their own.

More than 1,000 people are still needed to apply for census jobs in Champaign County, according to Beasley.

The Census Bureau has a goal of recruiting 1,928 people in Champaign County to fill its hiring pool, and as of Wednesday was 43 percent of the way there, she said.

Hundreds of additional census takers are still needed to apply for positions in Vermilion, Piatt, Douglas and Ford counties, she said. Census takers will be paid $20.50 an hour in all those counties except for Douglas, where the rate will be $17.50 an hour.

To be eligible, applicants must be at least 18 and a U.S. citizen and have a valid Social Security number, driver’s license and email address. Census employees also must be English-speaking, but bilingual applicants are also needed.

Those applying for census-taker jobs should expect to undergo fingerprinting and a criminal background check. They’ll also need access to a computer to complete the online training and access to a vehicle to do the job.

Beasley said the Census Bureau is looking to hire census takers who are flexible, thorough and committed to engaging with their communities.

The public will be urged to respond to the census as soon as possible after they receive the questions, Beasley said. The projected time to answer the 10 questions per household is 10 minutes, she said.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is assisting with census outreach in Champaign County and five others, according to the district’s deputy administrator, Awais Vaid.

The district has subcontracted with community organizations to provide outreach and education about the census, focusing on hard-to-reach populations such as the Amish, migrants and immigrants, he said.

Vaid said a team of census outreach workers is expected to be in place by the end of the week, and those employees will go out to neighborhoods, churches, community meetings and other functions to talk about the census process, Vaid said.