The Basic CPS monthly microdata file is usually made available to the public 30-45 days after data collection is complete. Data files for supplemental information, such as School Enrollment and Food Security, are available anywhere from 6 to 18 months after data collection.
To merge CPS files together, Linking CPS Data Files gives instructions.
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 proper estimates to be obtained at the county level, and in fact, data are not available for most counties sampled due to confidentiality laws.
See the BLS/CPS home page and then click on CPS Tables.
Historical data files are available through several outside organizations. Contact these for assistance and support with obtaining data files.
The CPS has one of the highest response rates among government household surveys, averaging around 75 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.
About 59,000 households are selected for the CPS each month, and it is a voluntary survey. Participation in the CPS is important because the answers represent thousands of other addresses and people. The information is collected by interviewers using a computer-assisted survey instrument, through personal visit and telephone interviews.