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Measuring Household Experiences during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Household Pulse Survey – Phase 2 

(August 19, 2020 – October 26, 2020)


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What is the Household Pulse Survey?

The U.S. Census Bureau, in collaboration with multiple federal agencies, is in a unique position to produce data on the social and economic effects of coronavirus on American households. The Household Pulse Survey is designed to deploy quickly and efficiently, collecting data to measure household experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. Data will be disseminated in near real-time to inform federal and state response and recovery planning.

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If you have been invited to participate in the survey, you will find more information here.

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What information does the Household Pulse Survey collect?

Phase 1 of the Household Pulse Survey asked individuals about their experiences in terms of employment status, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption. Phase 1 also included an interactive data tool that has been replaced for Phase 2, but users can still access all Phase 1 indicators.

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For Phase 2, the survey carries over many of these questions to allow users to understand how these domains are changing as the pandemic continues, and will include additional questions on the application and receipt of benefits, spending patterns, and availability of financial resources, post-secondary education disruptions, capacity to telework, and travel practices.

The questionnaire reflects content provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and multiple federal agencies, including:

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  • USDA Economic Research Service (ERS)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  • National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) 
  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)

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The data collected will enable the Census Bureau to produce statistics at the national and state levels and for the 15 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (metro areas).

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When will Data be Made Available from the Household Pulse Survey?

Data collection for Phase 2 of the Household Pulse Survey began on August 19, 2020.   The first data release for Phase 2 was Wednesday, September 9. Subsequent releases will be made every two weeks.

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How is the Household Pulse Survey Different from Other Surveys Conducted by the Census Bureau?

The Census Bureau and its federal statistical partners are considered the preeminent source of the nation's most important benchmark surveys.  Many of these surveys have been ongoing for more than 80 years and provide valuable insight on social and economic trends. 

The production of these benchmark surveys is by nature a highly deliberative process.  While efforts are underway to introduce COVID-19 questions into some of these surveys, that process can take months, sometimes years, before data are made publicly available.  

The approach for the Household Pulse Survey is different: it is designed to be a short-turnaround instrument that provides valuable data to aid in the pandemic recovery. The Census Bureau is fielding the Household Pulse Survey as a part of the agency’s Experimental Data Series; as such, data products may not meet some of the Census Bureau’s statistical quality standards. Data are subject to suppression based on overall response and disclosure avoidance thresholds.

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