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Update on CPS Research, Discussion for the Session

Edwin L. Robison


The Current Population Survey (CPS) of households is a source of national and subnational labor force data for the United States. It is the source of the monthly official unemployment rate which is a Primary Federal Economic Indicator (PFEI). It is a major input for the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program (LAUS). The distribution of some federal funds to states and localities is tied to estimates generated from CPS data. Given its importance, the sponsoring agencies (Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau) only implement changes that are supported by sufficient analysis. Extreme care is taken when making methodological changes that affect “topside“ national estimates of unemployment and employment. But there are many other estimates that the agencies examine for possible disruption to the time series.