The Current Population Survey (CPS)[1] is a monthly survey of about 60,000 U.S. households conducted by the United States Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS uses the data to publish reports early each month called the Employment Situation.[2] This report provides estimates of the unemployment rate and the numbers of employed and unemployed people in the United States based on the CPS. A readable Employment Situation Summary[3] is provided monthly. Annual estimates include employment and unemployment in large metropolitan areas. Researchers can use some CPS microdata to investigate these or other topics.

The survey asks about the employment status of each member of the household 15 years of age or older as of a particular calendar week.[4] Based on responses to questions on work and job search activities, each person 16 years and over in a sample household is classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force.

The CPS began in 1940, and responsibility for conducting the CPS was given to the Census Bureau in 1942.[5] In 1994 the CPS was redesigned. CPS is a survey that is: employment-focused, enumerator-conducted, continuous, and cross-sectional. The BLS increased the sample size by 10,000 as of July 2001.[6] The sample represents the civilian noninstitutional population.

Unemployment rate as a percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the variation across the states[11]As part of the demographic sample survey redesign,[8] the CPS is redesigned once a decade, after the decennial census. The most recent CPS sample redesign began in April 2014.[9]

Respondents are generally asked about their employment as of the week of the month that includes the 12th. To avoid holidays, this reference week is sometimes adjusted. All respondents are asked about the same week.[10]

People are classified as employed if they did any work at all as paid employees during the reference week; worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm; or worked without pay at least 15 hours in a family business or farm. People are also counted as employed if they were temporarily absent from their jobs because of illness, bad weather, vacation, labor-management disputes, or personal reasons.

People are classified as unemployed if they meet all of the following criteria:

The unemployment data derived from the household survey doesn't relate or depend on the eligibility of the worker to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Those who are not classified as employed or unemployed are not counted as part of the labor force. These people—those who have no job and are not looking for one—are counted as "not in the labor force". Many who are not in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. "Discouraged workers" are a subset of those who are "not in the labor force".[12]

1994 revisions

Since 1948, the CPS has included suppl

Although the primary purpose of the CPS is to record employment information, the survey fulfills a secondary role in providing demographic information about the United States population. CPS microdata for the period since 1962 are freely available through the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series.

Since 1948, the CPS has included supplemental questions (at first, in April; later, in March) on income received in the previous calendar year, which are used to estimate the data on income and work experience. These data are the source of the annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage.

Other regular or occasional survey supplement topics, in various months and years, have included after-tax money income, benefits that are not cash, displaced workers, job tenure, occupational mobility, temporary and contingent work, adult education, volunteering, tobacco use, food availability, fertility, and information about veterans.

See also