1,200 short-term jobs tied to census coming to S.L. Valley

In Sandy » Call center positions scheduled to begin in January.
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About 1,200 full- and part-time jobs, expected to last only about 10 months, are coming to the Salt Lake Valley beginning in January as part of the 2010 census.

Information on pay ranges for the call center jobs offered by Vangent Inc., for which hiring will begin this fall, wil be available in another month, but they are coming under opportune circumstances, if not an at opportune time.

Employees will work in a former Discover Card call center in Sandy.

"They [Vangent] are not only coming into a ready-made facility, but they are coming into a ready-made labor force," said Mark Knold, chief economist for the state Department of Workforce Services. "We have a lot of call centers in the area, and there have been layoffs at various ones."

Utah's unemployment rate jumped to 5.7 percent from 5.4 percent in June, and unemployment claims are running at a clip of 3,000 a week, compared with a normal 1,000 or so.

"Too bad they can't do it right away," he said of the projected January start time for the new jobs.

Vangent, a Census Bureau subcontractor based in Arlington, Va., will operate the nearly 19-year-old facility in Sandy as one of three national call centers, said spokeswoman Eileen Rivera. Workers will answer hot line questions from Americans about the upcoming U.S. census. Other centers will operate in Lawrence, Kan., and Phoenix.

Rivera said salary information and a breakdown about the number of part-time and full-time jobs should be available in September on Vangent's Web site, www.vangent.com.

Vangent has a track record for operating information centers for the Census Bureau during the every-10-year counting of the U.S. population, she said, noting that the company "had a similar role" during the 2000 census.

"It's such a big task that the government has to contract out parts of the census because they don't have the manpower," she said. Vangent was awarded the 2010 contract three years ago.

The census is providing temporary job opportunities for more than 2,000 Utahns. In January, the bureau recruited 1,000 workers for two- to three-month positions to handle neighborhood-canvassing duties. The jobs paid $11.50 an hour and up.

The former Discover Card facility in Sandy was built in 1990 as a contractors mart, but the concept failed to fly, and credit card company took it over and turned it into a call center a year later, said Chris Kirk, office specialist for commercial real-estate firm Commerce CRG. Discover Card closed that facility last October.

Commerce CRG negotiated the one-year lease with Vangent. Kirk said the building was perfect for the Virginia firm's needs because it already was outfitted with 1,200 work stations, a workout facility, a cafeteria and backup generators.

"It's one of those great situations where you work for a building that ends up being a solution" for another company, said Kirk. "The only thing we're doing is modernizing the cable.

"When [Vangent] leaves the building [in October 2010], it will be an even better center with state-of-the-art wiring."


Job candidates must

»Pass a security check and be fingerprinted

»Possess a high school diploma

»Have at least a two-year U.S. residency

»Be fluent in reading, speaking English

»Sign a sworn statement to protect census data

»Pass a skill-assessment test

» Those fluent in written and spoken Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean or Russian will receive additional compensation.

What's next

» Salary information and applications are expected to be available in September on Vangent's Web site, www.vangent.com.

» Jobs are expected to start in January.