How has COVID-19 affected 2020 data collection efforts?

By Julia A. Rivera Drew, Sarah M. Flood, Renae Rodgers

IPUMS integrates data from several major US surveys that collect data throughout the year. Below, we discuss how COVID-19 has affected how US statistical agencies have collected these survey data in 2020.

Current Population Survey (CPS)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Census Bureau have continued to collect data on a monthly basis during the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing some procedural modifications to protect the safety of respondents and Census Bureau employees and adding a short supplement to capture the effects of the pandemic on work in the United States.

Changes to Interviewing Procedures

Current Population Survey (CPS) data collection for March had already begun when the Census Bureau suspended in-person data collection on March 20th, 2020. Two call centers that assist with CPS data collection also closed down at this time. However, data collection continued exclusively by phone through June of 2020. In July, in-person interviews began in some areas of the country and the call centers that had been closed in March re-opened. In-person interviews were resumed in all areas of the country in September 2020 and data collection has returned to a normal routine. More information on how alternative data collection procedures affected response rates, attrition, and employment data is available on the IPUMS CPS website.

Additional COVID-related content

The COVID-19 outbreak prompted the BLS to add five questions to the monthly CPS survey about work in the time of COVID-19. These questions were first asked in May. Though the question about foregoing medical care due to the pandemic was dropped from the survey after October of 2020, all other questions will remain in the survey until further notice. Researchers may preview the questions or access the COVID-specific variables via IPUMS CPS.

IPUMS CPS will continue to update our documentation on the effects of the pandemic on CPS data collection and to make new data available as quickly as possible. Follow @ipums on Twitter for the latest updates.

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2019 ASEC Data Now Available from IPUMS CPS

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IPUMS CPS Now Offering Unharmonized Variables

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