Fairbanks short on census takers

Posted: Tuesday, May 30, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Fairbanks Census crews are so short-staffed that an Anchorage Census team has been sent north to help gather information about residents.

When the current door-to-door campaign began on May 1, 149 workers hit the streets of Fairbanks. They were paid $18.75 per hour to get people to complete Census forms.

John Bungart, the Census field operations supervisor in Fairbanks, said he isn't sure how many workers have quit his team.

''It's the nature of the beast,'' Bungart said.

''People get rejected. This job's not for everybody,'' he said. ''Doors get slammed in faces. Some people don't have a wonderful work ethic.''

Others quit because their automobiles couldn't handle the rough roads. Some workers left for other jobs.

The main Alaska Census office in Anchorage ordered a crew of eight to the Interior, though four workers have since returned to Anchorage. At least five other workers were brought to Fairbanks from Nenana and Delta Junction.

In addition 55 new Fairbanks census takers have been trained and another training class begins Tuesday, Bungart said.

Charles McGee, office manager for the U.S. Census Bureau in Alaska said that, in Alaska, the staff turnover appears unique to Fairbanks. The turnover has occurred in other places in the nation, however, he said.

Next on Bungart's agenda are outlying areas such as Chatanika and along the Salcha and upper Chena rivers, which will be accessed by boat. Bungart is obtaining bids from boat operators to ferry Census workers.

''We're watching the rivers,'' he said. ''It's a tremendous task with a state as spread out as we are.''

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