Nonresponse is less of a problem in CPS than in many other surveys. Nevertheless, even small levels of nonresponse could have an effect on estimates, such as the unemployment rate, which is measured in tenths of a percentage point. Nonresponse is constantly monitored, both for basic CPS and the monthly supplements. Methods for reducing nonresponse are investigated and implemented on an ongoing basis. This graph provides the nonresponse rates for basic CPS over the last twelve months.
Total nonresponse is defined as the number of noninterviews among all eligible households. Nonresponse historically has been highest in March, coinciding with the administration of the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The rates for the two largest categories of nonresponse, refusals and noncontacts ("temporarily absent" and "no one home"), also are given. Recent research has shown that the characteristics of refusals and noncontacts may be quite different, with noncontacts more likely to be employed than refusals. The difference between total nonresponse and the sum of refusals and noncontacts gives an estimate of nonresponse for other reasons, including illness and language problems. Prior to publication, a geographic adjustment for nonresponse is made at the household level.