A representative from the U.S Census Bureau is visiting Rocky Mount to hire workers for temporary positions for the 2020 census.

To conduct the count, the bureau mails census cards to every listed address in the country. Out of those, it is estimated that about 20 percent of households do not return the cards.

Census workers then have to go to any addresses listed as having not returned their cards in order to see if the house is vacant, address any concerns from residents or help them fill out the surveys if needed.

“A misconception about census workers is that we’re going door to door,” said Jerry Barnes, recruitment assistant. “Really, we only reach out to anyone who hasn’t sent their survey back in.”

Working hours are flexible, although most employees tend to work from 4-8 p.m., depending on the amount of work. Employees earn $15.50 per hour and are reimbursed 58 cents per mile.

Residents have the option to fill out the survey card or complete it online, a method unused by previous censuses. In order to fill out the online survey, participants will need their 10-digit user ID from the letter or informational card received in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The information collected in the census is completely confidential and cannot be publicly shared with anyone or any agency for 72 years.

“All of the information we get is strictly for statistical purposes,” Barnes said. “It won’t be used to deport anyone or bring law enforcement to them — the census is just about counting everyone in the U.S., legal citizen or not.”

Census data is used for a variety of statistical purposes, such as designing public safety strategies and designating grant money for hospitals and roads.

Another important use of the information is reappointing seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The number of seats per state is assigned depending on the population of the state. Based on the statistics and analysis of the 2010 census, North Carolina is expected to have had enough population growth to gain another seat in the House.

For any questions or help with an application, Barnes will be at NC Works from 1-4 p.m. Feb. 18 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 25; at Braswell Memorial Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. every Wednesday in February; and at Edgecombe County Memorial Library in Tarboro from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 15.