Census provides temporary jobs for unemployed

Census worker Alkeesha Durrette applied at the U.S. Census office on Wrightsboro Road in Augusta after being out of work for a year.

There aren't many jobs that come along once every 10 years, but the employees at the U.S. Census Bureau managed to find one.


"I was a customer service representative at Augusta Mall, and I had been laid off for a year when I applied (to the Census Bureau)," said Alkeesha Durrette, a census field operation supervisor.

Dozens of Augusta residents -- all of whom were previously unemployed -- found their way to the U.S. Census office on Wrightsboro Road in hopes of landing part-time jobs. The federal census is taken every 10 years.

About 1,500 people have jobs with the census locally. Among them is Julia Lassiter.

"I was retired for five years and was researching my family tree," Lassiter explained. "When I was doing my family tree I had to contact the census, and I just decided to apply for a job with them."

Lassiter, 61, said her reason for coming out of retirement was simple.

"I thought I could help my community and my country because a lot of people are fearful of giving away their information," she said. "But if they saw someone who looked like them, maybe they'd be more willing to share that information with me."

As field operation supervisors, Lassiter and Durrette oversee 16 crew leaders and roughly 300 enumerators. According to Durrette, that has given her a fresh outlook on life.

"I've met a lot of new people," she said. "It's given me an appreciation of life because when you see people whose house has been foreclosed, it makes you appreciate the life that you have."

Durrette, 33, said that there are aspects of the job that can be challenging.

"You run into people who are scared of giving you information, but we explained that it's confidential, but sometimes people just don't want to talk to you," she said.

The census collection is set to end in September. After their employment ends, Lassiter and Durrette will be back on the job search.

"I'll be looking for employment," said Durrette. "I'm still in school, so I'll have something to look forward to."

Lassiter said that her experience at the census has reinvigorated her desire to work and that she also search for a job in September.

"I'll be looking for something to do," she said. "This has been a wonderful experience, and I always tell people that retirement isn't all it's trumped up to be."