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Measuring Household Experiences during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

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What is the Household Pulse Survey?

The U.S. Census Bureau, in collaboration with five federal agencies, is in a unique position to produce data on the social and economic effects of COVID-19 on American households.

The Household Pulse Survey is designed to deploy quickly and efficiently, collecting data to measure household experiences during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) 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 will the Household Pulse Survey collect?

The Household Pulse Survey will ask individuals about their experiences in terms of employment status, spending patterns, food security, housing, physical and mental health, access to health care, and educational disruption.

The questionnaire is a result of collaboration between the U.S. Census Bureau and the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The data collected will enable the Census Bureau to produce statistics at a state level and for the 15 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).  The survey also is designed to be longitudinal:  data will provide insights with regard to how household experiences changed during the pandemic.

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

Data collection for the Household Pulse Survey began on April 23, 2020.  The Census Bureau will collect data for 90 days, and release data on a weekly basis.  (For the first release, the Census Bureau anticipates it will take two weeks after the first week of data collection to prepare and weight the data; subsequent releases will then be made on a weekly basis.)

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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 these surveys, that process can take months, sometimes years, before data are made available.  

The approach for the Household Pulse Survey is different:  It is designed to be a short-turnaround instrument that will provide valuable data to aid in the post-pandemic recovery. The Census Bureau is fielding the Household Pulse Survey as a demonstration project that is part of the Experimental Data Product series. 

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