At a time when jobs are hard to come by, county residents have a shot at working part-time for the census bureau.

James Welch, partnership specialist for the Dallas Regional Census Center, spoke to Somervell County commissioners Monday hoping to raise awareness and support for the 2010 census.

“The 2010 census is a year away, but we need to work now to identify and locate all communities to be counted,” Welch said.

He said people from the area know the communities better and can help make sure everyone gets counted.

“We try to hire from the local community,” Welch said.

Welch stressed the importance of an accurate count. The federal government uses the numbers to allocate funds based on demographics.

The 2010 census will only have 10 questions, but those 10 questions will decide how $300 billion is spent for the next 10 years.

“A good census count helps Uncle Sam figure out how to spend those funds,” Welch said.

The questionnaires go out early next March. Welch said about 68 percent of those will be returned. The remaining 32 percent will have to be counted by hand on the taxpayer’s tab.

One of the first tasks is to verify addresses. Address canvassing will begin in April to double check for actual houses.

Welch said employees will be given GPS coordinates for houses and asked to verify that a house is still there. More employees will be needed next year to help collect the information that is not returned.

Anyone interested in a temporary part-time job should call 1-866-861-2010 for more information.

Welch is also asking for community volunteers to help raise awareness about the importance of completing and returning the census. He asked commissioners to adopt a resolution supporting a 2010 Census Complete Count Committee.

He said the volunteer committee should be made of 10-14 people representing local entities such as churches, schools and organizations.

Somervell County Judge Walter Maynard said the court would need time to consider who would be able to serve on the committee before deciding on the resolution.