The U.S. Census Bureau needs to hire some 500,000 temporary and part-time workers to complete the 2020 census. As a result, the federal government says it is gearing up to be the nation’s biggest “gig” employer by early next year. 

Ironically, the federal government has a spotty record when it comes to measuring — even accurately describing — the so-called “gig” or freelance economy. But that may be good news for potential workers. Unlike many employers in the freelance economy, the federal government plans to pay considerably more than minimum wage, provide some benefits, and reimburse for expenses.

The jobs

The vast majority of the jobs are for census takers — also called “enumerators.” These individuals track down people who haven’t completed the Census forms and get their answers to the relevant questions. These positions are mostly part-time, often during evenings and weekends, and temporary.

The government is already interviewing applicants for these jobs, but the bulk of the work starts next year. The agency expects to deploy hundreds of thousands of enumerators during the spring, but the work will diminish in the fall and end completely before year end. 

However, the agency is also hiring recruiting assistants, office clerks, and supervisors. Some of these jobs start now and last a full year. 

Expected pay

The hourly pay varies based on the position you get and the cost of living in various parts of the country. But it substantially exceeds minimum wage everywhere, ranging from $13 in rural areas where the minimum wage is $7.25 to more than $50 per hour for supervisors in higher-cost cities.

In Oakland, Calif. and Brooklyn, New York, for instance, the pay for enumerators ranges from $20 to $25 per hour.  The pay range in Detroit is $15 to $19. In Albany, New York, it’s $13.50 to $17. (You can find the pay range for your area here.) Those who get a job that requires travel are reimbursed for mileage and other necessary job-related expenses.

Supervisory positions typically pay $26 to $32 per hour. However, it can be more. A listing for a supervisor in San Francisco offered pay of $51 per hour.


When could you start and how much would you be required to work?

That varies based on the position. If you want to be a field manager, you could be hired almost immediately and work as much as full time. Importantly, full-time workers are entitled to benefits, such as health insurance. However, all of the jobs are temporary, expected to last only until mid-September 2020. Available supervisory positions are already listed on the site.

Hiring for Census enumerators — the people who check for valid housing addresses and go into the field to find people who have failed to complete census questionaires — will be ramping up over the coming months. Prospective applicants can apply on line now. However, its likely to take several weeks before someone contacts you for an interview.


To qualify for any of these government jobs, you must be a U.S. Citizen who is at least 18 years old; have a valid Social Security number; an email address; and pass a background check.

You also must have access to a computer to complete required online training. (The Census has gone digital and will have you filling out forms electronically, rather than lugging around paper surveys.) If you’re hired to canvas an area that does not have good public transit, you’ll also need to have access to a car.

Veterans and people with disabilities get favored hiring status, according to the agency’s website.


Both Census supervisors and enumerators must commit to a flexible schedule that would include some night and weekend work. The Census is using computer analysis to handicapp the best hours to send workers into the field.

Most supervisors, meanwhile, must agree to a “mixed-tour” — Census-speak for working part-time some months and full-time others. However, you can negotiate your hours in advance, so you can plan other work around the Census position, if you choose to.

Complimentary part-time work

If the Census can’t provide enough hours, SideHusl has listings for dozen of other flexible part-time jobs that you could use to fill in your free time. Some good options:

Wonolo finds warehouse operations, merchandising, administration and event staffing positions.

Amazon Flex provides work in delivery services.

BlueCrew hires workers for delivery, customer service and warehousing positions.

You also may want to check out our blog post on random side hustles that anyone can do. And, perhaps, on fast-buck side hustles that hire and pay quickly.