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[whitespace] High Los Gatos rents force census office to Sunnyvale

Los Gatos--The Los Gatos Local Census Office celebrated its official opening on Jan. 7, but Los Gatans may have a little trouble finding the building. It's in Sunnyvale.

According to Judy McTighe, Local Census Office manager and a former Los Gatan, the name stuck because Los Gatos is the population center of the southern Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County areas her office is responsible for surveying.

Why isn't the Los Gatos office located in Los Gatos? "What it came down to is that they couldn't afford the rent in Los Gatos, and no one wanted to rent to us for just a year," McTighe said.

McTighe has been a Bureau of the Census employee since 1988. She collects data for the Consumer Price Index and Bureau of Labor and gathers unemployment and health statistics. She said she was eager to be a part of the millennial census to help make up for the "bad job" the bureau did in 1990.

McTighe said the combination of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the bureau's own failure to do adequate searching resulted in a 2.4 percent undercount in this area.

"Over ten years, that [undercount] interprets to the loss of millions and millions of dollars," McTighe said.

Census numbers are used by the federal government to allocate funding and other resources, and by state and local governments to plan schools and highways. Overall, the 1990 census missed more than 8 million people.

The bureau is hiring 1,500 to 1,800 people for field positions to do non-response followup; the jobs pay $15.50 an hour, plus mileage. After an initial mailing to announce the impending census and offer residents the chance to receive the form in one of six languages, the office waits close to a month before initiating its non-response followup, a.k.a. door-to-door canvassing.

McTighe said it's common that residents--especially those in areas like Los Gatos with many large, gated lots--resent the door-to-door approach. "The best way to keep us from knocking on someone's door that doesn't want us is to send the form back," McTighe said.

For more information on job opportunities, call 1.888.325.7733.
Nathan R. Huff

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