No new deadline for census completion
FIVE MONTHS after missing its second target of March 2023 to complete data collection for the population census, the head of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) says the agency will not be revealing a new deadline at this time.
STATIN says it is now concentrating on wrapping up the data-collection exercise.
The agency had originally set a December 2022 deadline to complete the data collection component of the nationwide census, but has been bedevilled by various challenges, including an attrition of census takers.
“We will not be releasing a date because our focus is to look at the constituencies to the proportion of EDs (enumeration districts) that have been covered,” STATIN Director General Carol Coy told journalists during a press conference yesterday.
She stressed that the emphasis is on ensuring that adequate data is available to provide sound estimates of the population count and key population and household indicators.
Coy noted that the issues facing the current census in this post-pandemic environment are not unique to Jamaica, as several countries across the region have faced significant challenges in executing the 2020 round of censuses.
She said that one of the main challenges was recruitment and the high levels of attrition of census workers.
“As unemployment rates decline, persons are less inclined to take up more strenuous and short-term jobs like data collection. In addition to our initial recruitment drive, secondary recruitment efforts were targeted in areas without census workers,” she said.
Additionally, the STATIN boss said that “a significant number of persons indicated that they were either no longer interested, found other means of employment, deemed that the work would be too hard, and some persons failed the minimum training requirements”.
However, she said that STATIN has moved to mitigate the impact caused by the shortage of census field workers.
The agency has employed several strategies to increase the rate of data collection, such as the introduction of teams comprised of experienced and efficient data collectors in targeted areas to quickly canvass an enumeration district. It has also deployed web questionnaires and an abbreviated version of the census questionnaires.
Addressing concerns raised by some census workers regarding remuneration, Coy said that STATIN has instituted measures to ensure that they are compensated in a timely manner.
However, she indicated that payments can only be made after the census takers have collected data of a standard that will prove credible for policymakers, planners, and the general public. Coy added that payment for work done is based on the approval of census questionnaires.
The population and housing census is an extensive project conducted every 10 years that provides important information on the population: demographic and socio-economic conditions and housing stock.