Monday, July 12, 2010

The most qualified Census workers ever

When the Census Bureau hired upward of 700,000 Americans over the last two years — most in the last six months — it landed more experienced workers with more sophisticated skills than any time in recent memory. This was the unintended upside of the nastiest recession of the last 70 years. ...

Angular, with close-cropped gray hair and a voice laden with hard New England vowels, [Bob] Hamilton, too, is a temporary worker with a backstory. He was vice president for a retailer until he took some time off in 2007, his mortgage paid and bank account strong. Then the economy tanked, as did his retirement fund. He tried to return only to find that when it came to finding a job, the rug had been pulled out from under him.

“I was reluctant to do this at first,” he says. “I finally said to myself: This isn’t going any better. I better take the next step.”

That pattern repeats across the country. In south Connecticut, a laid-off executive for a large insurer helps coordinate the door-to-door counters. In Orange County, Calif., unemployed real estate lawyers work as counters, and the office is managed by a down-on-her-luck corporate trainer.

In the census office in Worcester, Mass., the guy who took the tech services job acknowledged quietly that he had a degree in nuclear engineering from M.I.T.
--Michael Powell, NYT, on the nuclear engineer in the Census bureau

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