When Daniel Miño shows up at the door, he hopes the person who answers is patient and kind.
Miño is one of a number of census takers that will revisit 5 percent of Thurston County households with the same questions they already posed by mail or in-person during an initial canvassing. The federal census takes place every 10 years, a requirement since 1790 that is specified in the U.S. Constitution.
The work now is a sampling the U.S. Census Bureau does to ensure the accuracy of the count, bureau spokeswoman Cecilia Sorci said.
“It takes less than five minutes, perhaps,” she said.
Sorci said, anecdotally, workers are “getting a bit more pushback” from Olympia residents than in other areas.
Miño said most of the people he talks to are cooperative, once he explains why the census is necessary to determine how much federal money flows into communities. “I like people,” he said. “I like to talk to people.
“In this job, if you don’t like to communicate with people, it’s going to be hard for you.”
Besides double-checking the count, census takers are confirming whether residences are vacant, a particular issue this census with the rash of foreclosures.
So, people may be visited by a census worker even if they turned in the census form or were already surveyed by worker in person, Miño said.
Miño was scheduled to canvass the Rochester, Centralia and Shelton areas on Wednesday. If he doesn’t find people at home, he leaves a note with a contact number. People can either call him or a census worker can make another visit.
Miño, originally from Ecuador, is one of the bureau’s Spanish-speaking employees, who helps interview those populations.
He said sometimes people are reluctant to share their information, fearful that the Census Bureau will share their information with other agencies. He assures them that it does not.
“We don’t share the information with anybody,” he said.
The numbers also determine how many congressional seats are apportioned per state. An initial tally is due to President Barack Obama by the end of the year. In another two to three years, more detailed demographic data will be available to the public.
Olympia Mayor Dough Mah implored people to participate at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869