October 24, 2023

Census Bureau: Current Population Survey Modernization Efforts Set to Launch

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are launching a joint effort to modernize the Current Population Survey (CPS) and announce proposed plans to implement changes to ensure sustainability.

Developed in the 1930s to meet the increased needs for unemployment, the CPS has been conducted in its present form since 1948. It is one of the oldest, largest and most well-recognized surveys in the nation. The CPS is sponsored jointly by the Census Bureau and BLS. It is the primary source of labor force statistics, a key Principal Federal Economic Indicator (PFEI), and is used to collect critical data measuring the nation’s economic and social well-being through supplemental questions to the monthly basic CPS questions. The Annual Social and Economic Supplement’s Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage statistics are an example of this.

Response rates for all household surveys, including the CPS, have been steadily declining for years. Additional challenges include increased collection costs in the form of labor and travel as well as an increase in both the number of contacts required to reach the desired sample size and hard to reach respondents.

“The CPS is facing significant challenges that we must address to maintain data quality and ensure sustainability,” said Eloise Parker, assistant director for Demographic Programs. “The Census Bureau and BLS are committed to improving the CPS with modernization measures designed to increase operational efficiencies, lower respondent burden, and reach respondents who are otherwise unwilling to report or are hard to count.”

 “While the CPS remains the gold standard household survey for measuring the labor force, the ever-increasing challenges of survey collection require BLS and the Census Bureau to act now to ensure its long-term sustainability,” said Patrick Carey, BLS assistant commissioner for Current Employment Analysis.

The first step in this modernization is already underway as work has begun on an internet self-response mode for basic CPS and supplements. This will be in addition to existing in-person and telephone data-collection modes.

The new internet self-response mode is being designed to:

The Census Bureau and BLS are holding a joint webinar series to share updates and lay the groundwork for improvements to the CPS. The webinars will provide important details about challenges faced and plans to implement improvements to ensure sustainability. The Census Bureau and BLS will continue to engage stakeholders and provide updates as the project moves forward. Future webinars will focus on additional improvements and research results. For more information about the CPS modernization efforts and the webinar series, visit CPS Modernization Efforts and the press kit.

This post was originally published here.