Consumer's Guide to Best-Practices Temporary Employment Agencies


LAST UPDATED:  March 28, 2000

- FYI -

Taken from Russel Ben-Ali's Star Ledger article, "Despite high pay and a major advertising campaign, the U.S. Census Bureau is still having a hard time recruiting workers in some North Jersey towns, officials said.

The problems are most severe in parts of Essex, Bergen and Passaic counties, officials said.

Even though the Census Bureau is offering workers $16.50 to $23 an hour for the temporary jobs, the strong economy and low unemployment is forcing recruiters to shift their strategy to appeal to something other than New Jerseyans' pocketbooks.

"Now we are trying to push their civic responsibility buttons," said Raquel Strauss, the bureau's chief recruiter for North and Central Jersey. "They (workers) don't do it for the money, they want to make sure their neighbors are counted."

Civic pride was what motivated Audrey Tanksley to take the 30-minute test to become a census worker.

"My children are small so they don't believe me when I tell them how beautiful East Orange used to be, with open spaces, trees and less congested streets," said Tanksley, 37, a local office worker.

East Orange officials have long accused the census bureau of undercounting the city's population, which they blame for the loss of thousands of dollars in federal funds -- money Tanksley says can help restore some of the city's lost charm.

At stake in Census 2000 is $185 billion in federal funds that are allocated every year based on each state's population. But without a sufficient pool of enumerators -- the people who go door-to-door to question residents who have not returned their census forms -- undercounts are likely. The federal government estimates that only 61 percent of households will mail back their census forms by the suggested due date of April 1.

There are shortages in both urban areas and more affluent communities. In urban areas, census officials said they are especially concerned over the small number of Hispanics and Spanish-speaking candidates who've taken the census exam, officials said.

"In Essex (County) and North Newark, we need Hispanics to conduct the survey and they are not coming to take the test," Strauss said. A larger pool of Hispanic test takers are also being sought in the cities of Paterson and Passaic.

In North Jersey, the bureau's offices in East and West Essex, Bergen and Passaic counties have not met their recruiting goals, Strauss said.

She said the bureau will know for sure how many workers it will need once census forms are mailed in.

But, she said, in Essex County, more workers are already needed Essex Fells, Maplewood, Millburn, Upper Montclair, North Caldwell and parts of Newark, East Orange, Orange, Bloomfield, Belleville, Verona and Nutley.

In Passaic County, workers are needed in Paterson, Passaic, Wayne, Totowa, Clifton, Hawthorne and West Milford in Passaic County. In Bergen County, the need is greatest in Lyndhurst, North Arlington, Moonachie, Ridgefield, Little Ferry, South Hackensack, Maywood, Elmwood Park, Garfield and Wallington, she said.

Ideally, enumerators would be recruited to work in their own neighborhoods, where they know their way around and can more easily gain the trust of residents. But canvassers can be shuffled to cover areas where recruitment is low, officials said.

With a high turnover expected among enumerators, the census bureau plans to continue conducting tests to ensure a pool of candidates several times larger than the number needed.

"For a variety of reasons, people may not qualify or decide they don't want to do the job," said Max Norat, a spokesman for the New York regional census office, which covers 10 northern and central New Jersey counties.

"Some people go door to door, someone gets nasty with them and they quit," he said. "So we're trying to create the largest pool we can and qualify as many people as we can."

With two weeks remaining until most enumerators are needed, tests are being offered seven days a week in almost every municipality in New Jersey.

Nationally, recruitment is ahead of schedule, said Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt, but already turnover has been a problem.

"The number of people in the job application pool (exceeds) 2 million," Prewitt said. Census officials estimate that recruitment nationally has reached 91 percent of the bureau's hiring goals."


The Temporary Workers Alliance, National Alliance for Fair Employment, Working Partnerships, WashTech, Working Today, Jobs for Justice, and other groups were featured in Christopher D. Cook's article Temps Demand New Deal.  The article was printed in the March 9th edition of, now available in the site's archived section.

The following is an excerpt from Mr. Cook's article, "In New Jersey a similar code-of-conduct campaign has benefited from low unemployment rates, as temp agencies are 'scrambling to get bodies,' says Barrie Peterson, employment specialist with the nonprofit United Labor Agency of Bergen County, which runs the Bergen Employment Action Project's Temp Workers Alliance.  So far thirty-two New Jersey temp companies, mostly small to mid-size firms that 'want to distinguish themselves as a high-practice agency,' have signed the project's fair-conduct code, says Peterson.  The project publishes a consumer guide listing 'best practice' temp agencies that abide by the code, a strategy to promote more labor-friendly firms and to help temps shop around for better treatment."


The U.S. government is STILL hiring millions of temporary workers to help conduct the U.S. census.  The U.S. government will NOT be hiring temps through temp agencies.  All temps hired will be classified as independent contractors.  Most jobs will last anywhere from 4 weeks to 5 months, depending on where you live.   If you'd like more information, please visit or call toll-free  1-888-325-7733.  Census 2000 temporary workers can expect to make anywhere between $8.25/hour to $18.50/hour and receive 32 cents/mile in travel reimbursement.  Temporary part-time evening jobs are also available for people seeking to augment their income. Apply now, since most of these temporary jobs begin in April 2000.


1999 Edition November 1998 Volume 5 Edition Volume 5

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Temp Workers Alliance Meets Every First Monday of the Month from 5:30 to 7 pm at the United Labor Agency, 214 State St., Suite 201, Hackensack, NJ * For More Information, Please Call (201) 489-7476

Our Purpose
To build toward real solutions to the problems faced by temp workers, we conduct research, disseminate information, educate the public, provide direct assistance when possible, advocate for higher standards, and collaborate with any groups sharing our goals.

Our initial stragety since 1997 is to provide job seekers with information on "best practices" temp agencies so they can make informed choices.  In doing so, we are forming strategic alliances with those agencies as a means of protecting temp workers' rights in this rapidly growing industry.

By attending the Temp Workers Alliance (first Mondays at 5:30 pm in Hackensack), you can share experiences with other temps.  By consulting our Black Book of over 100 reports on temp agencies, you can learn how the agencies (regardless whether or not they meet "Best Practices" criteria) treat workers and learn what type of assignments they have available.


Criteria for "Best Practices" Agencies