As the 2010 Census count winds down, the agency which has employed over 700,000 people over the last two years -- a vital boost during the Great Recession -- is now laying off most of its employees, as The New York Times reports:
Now, its decennial work largely done, the Census Bureau is shedding hundreds of thousands of workers -- about 225,000 in just the last few weeks, enough to account for a jot or two in the unemployment rate, say federal economists. Most of those remaining will be gone by August; a few will last into September.
Economists are saying the impact of the "Census effect" on overall unemployment numbers will be minor, in part because many working for the Census -- around half -- held other part-time jobs.
But there's no doubt that public Census jobs have been a critical source of work and income, especially in hard-hit regions like the South.
According to a Facing South analysis, about a third of Census jobs in June 2010 were in three of the Census regional offices -- Charlotte, Atlanta and Dallas -- covering 11 Southern states. Those three Southern offices also accounted for over 37 percent of the Census jobs lost during the month.
Here's a chart showing how many jobs each regional office employed weekly in June:
Consider the impact in a place like the Atlanta regional office, which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia. In June it went from employing the most Census workers in the country -- over 48,000 -- to just over 13,000, a 73 percent drop. That's especially devastating in places like Florida, which has an 11.7 percent jobless rate.
The same is true for the Charlotte office, which saw its Census workforce contract by 80% in June. That office covers Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina (11 percent unemployed), Tennessee and Virginia
And what about the Dallas office, covering the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas? Losing half of their Census workforce will be especially devastating in a region that faces thousands of lost jobs and billions in economic damage from the BP oil disaster.