DEFINITION of 'Current Population Survey'

Current Population Survey is a statistical survey that is performed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on a monthly basis. The survey includes a representative sample of about 60,000 homes and focuses on those individuals who are 15 years and older to make an inferential assumption about the U.S. population as a whole.

BREAKING DOWN 'Current Population Survey'

The survey seeks to determine the unemployment rate of certain regions, the earnings of person's surveyed, hours the respondent worked and other demographic factors as well. These demographic factors, such as age, sex and industry of work, are used to determine the unemployment rate for the country.

How The Survey Works

According to the BLS, "The Current Population Survey (CPS) is one of the oldest, largest, and most well-recognized surveys in the United States.  It is immensely important, providing information on many of the things that define us as individuals and as a society – our work, our earnings, and our education. 

In addition to being the primary source of monthly labor force statistics, the CPS is used to collect data for a variety of other studies that keep the nation informed of the economic and social well-being of its people.  This is done by adding a set of supplemental questions to the monthly basic CPS questions.  Supplemental inquiries vary month to month and cover a wide variety of topics such as child support, volunteerism, health insurance coverage, and school enrollment.  Supplements are usually conducted annually or biannually, but the frequency and recurrence of a supplement depend completely on what best meets the needs of the supplement’s sponsor."

The survey doesn't provide details about individuals. "The CPS data provide reliable estimates at the state level and for 12 of the largest metropolitan statistical areas. The sample size does not allow reliable estimates to be obtained at the county level. In fact, not all counties are included in the sample, and data are not available for most counties that are sampled due to confidentiality laws. Tabulated data for states and local areas are available from the BLS Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment," BLS notes.

The survey is the most frequent and accurate of its kind. The CPS has one of the highest response rates among government household surveys, averaging around 90 percent. This rate is calculated after excluding those housing units that are either unoccupied (vacant, under construction) or occupied solely by persons not eligible for interview. These units make up approximately 18 percent of the total sample.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Representative Sample

    A representative sample is a subset of a statistical population ...
  2. CEO Confidence Survey

    A monthly survey of 100 CEOs from a variety of industries in ...
  3. Sampling Distribution

    A sampling distribution is a probability distribution of a statistic ...
  4. Sample

    A sample is a smaller, manageable version of a larger group. ...
  5. Systematic Sampling

    Systematic sampling is a probability sampling method in which ...
  6. Unemployment Rate

    The unemployment rate is the percentage of the total labor force ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    How The Bureau Of Labor Statistics Works

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the primary statistical agency for the U.S. federal government in labor economics and statistics.
  2. Insights

    What You Need To Know About The Employment Report

    This widely watched indicator of economic well-being directly influences the market.
  3. Personal Finance

    What The Unemployment Rate Doesn't Tell Us

    The unemployment rate is climbing, but what does it mean?
  4. Personal Finance

    Who Topped Bloomberg Businessweek's 2016 MBA List

    It's Harvard again, with Duke as the number 3 best full-time U.S. business school, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
  5. Insights

    2017 is the Year of Volatility: Natixis Institutional Investor Survey

    The survey of roughly 500 institutional investors indicates an interest in active management as market volatitlity continues to rise.
  6. Financial Advisor

    Investors Lack Alternative Investing Knowledge

    A recent survey shows that investors lack knowledge of alternative investments. Here is what advisors can do to combat this.
  7. Personal Finance

    Jobs with the Lowest Unemployment Rates

    These jobs have low unemployment rates and high demand – both now and likely in the future.
  8. Investing

    The Value Line Investment Survey

    If you want to try your hand at picking stocks but don't know where to start, The Value Line Investment Survey can help.
  9. Investing

    TD Ameritrade Survey: Investors Trust Financial Advisors Over Accountants

    A new survey by TD Ameritrade showed that investors trust financial advisors more than accountants when it comes to tax questions.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What percentage of the population do you need in a representative sample?

    Learn about representative samples and how they are used in conjunction with other strategies to create useful data with ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are the disadvantages of using a simple random sample to approximate a larger ...

    Learn here what a simple random sample is, how researchers use it as a statistical tool and the disadvantages it carries ... Read Answer >>
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using systematic sampling?

    Learn about the primary advantages and disadvantages of using a systematic sampling method when conducting research of a ... Read Answer >>
  4. What are the advantages of using a simple random sample to study a larger population?

    Learn how simple random sampling works and what advantages it offers over other sampling methods when selecting a research ... Read Answer >>
  5. When is it better to use systematic over simple random sampling?

    Learn when systematic sampling is better than simple random sampling, such as in the absence of data patterns and when there ... Read Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between a simple random sample and a stratified random sample?

    Learn about the differences between simple random sampling and stratified random sampling, and the advantages of each method. Read Answer >>
Trading Center