AUSTIN (Nexstar) — U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham is in Texas making a push to get people to apply for the thousands of open jobs for the 2020 Census. 

Around half a million temporary employees are needed to conduct the upcoming census. Director Dillingham spoke with UT Chancellor James Milliken Tuesday about promoting the opportunity to college students. 

“We are recruiting students in colleges and universities across the country,” Dillingham said. 

“It’s the largest mobilization since World War II,” he added. “It happens every 10 years. We think we have some great jobs for college students that are interested – part-time, federal employment that will begin early next year. It pays well, it’s great experience and for some college students, it may be their first professional job. It will be a career enhancer.” 

Dillingham also met with Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs for a roundtable discussion with other state agencies to coordinate efforts to ensure an accurate count of all Texans. Texas State Demographer Dr. Lloyd Potter and representatives from the Texas Legislature were also part of the roundtable. 

“The census plays a major role in determining the distribution of federal funds to the Lone Star State in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, and infrastructure and housing, as well as determining the size of our congressional delegation,” said Secretary Hughs in an emailed release. “That’s why it’s imperative that we work collaboratively towards finding ways that our state’s agencies can help to ensure that we count all Texans in the upcoming census.” 

Dillingham also addressed recent reports of security threats over its online platform. This is the first year the census is going digital. 

“We’re engaged in making sure our system is the most secure system possible,” he said. “We protect the data. When data is submitted to the Census Bureau, it is fully protected under federal law and through our systems, so those are very important things that pose challenges that we are meeting and we are looking forward to conducting this new modern census and most people will, in fact, respond via the internet.” 

There were also reports of whether the online platform would be able to handle all the survey responses and possibly underperforming when the time comes. 

“We actually plan for that,” he said. “We have a system that we’ve actually increased five-fold what we expected the response rate to be, but in case we need more, we can very quickly identify and use a greater capability in our system. We can ramp it up, as they say in the IT world.” 

People can respond to the census through mail, phone or internet.