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Working Paper Number SEHSD WP2020-10
Jonathan Rothbaum and Adam Bee
Component ID: #ti1141607990

Introduction

The Coronavirus pandemic has had wide-ranging impacts on the lives and well-being of individuals and households.  Surveys of those individuals and households are an important input into understanding the effects of the pandemic.  However, survey operations themselves have also been affected by the pandemic.  We evaluate how response in the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) was affected by COVID-19.  We link addresses in the survey (for both respondents and nonrespondents) to administrative and prior decennial census and survey data to assess nonresponse.  We show that survey nonresponse was unique in the 2020 CPS ASEC – nonresponse increased substantially and was more strongly associated with income than in prior years.  In addition, response patterns changed by education, Hispanic origin, and citizenship and nativity.  We use inverse probability weights to correct for potential nonresponse bias in the 2017 through 2020 CPS ASEC.  In 2020, this nonresponse biased income estimates up and poverty statistics down.  From the survey, real median household income was $68,700 in 2019, up 6.8 percent from 2018.  After adjusting for nonresponse bias, we estimate that real median household income in 2019 was 2.8 percent lower than the survey estimate at $66,790.  With the nonresponse bias correction, we estimate a poverty rate of 11.1 percent in 2019, compared to the official estimate of 10.5 percent.

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