Census

The bad job market was good for the Census Bureau

Feb. 23, 2011 at 2:12 PM ET

Carolyn Kaster / AP file /
U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves leaves the home of World War II veteran and village elder Clifton Jackson, 89, in the remote Inupiat Eskimo village Noorvik, Alaska.

The nation’s high jobless rate may be terrible news for the economy, but it provided some unexpected good news for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Robert Groves, the director of the U.S. Census Bureau, said earlier this week that one reason the 2010 Census cost far less than expected was because the government was able to attract much better workers for its temporary Census jobs.

"The unemployment rate was so high that we had people working on tasks that we had prepared for folks who have very low skills," Groves told a group at Cornell University last week, according to the Cornell Chronicle online. "We had people who had very good job experiences. ... They finished up all the operations faster than we thought, and better than we thought. So all of our productivity models were wrong, I mean seriously wrong."

The comments were confirmed by a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau.

All told, the Census Bureau said it saved about $1.87 billion on the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau said the savings were the result of a number of factors, including the more productive workforce.

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