Current Population Survey (CPS)

Census and DOL/BLS
Years Available
1945 to present
Monthly and annual
Mode of Collection
Multi-stage sample survey: household-based, one person responding for all household members.
The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey that provides current estimates and trends in employment, unemployment, earnings, and other characteristics of the general labor force, the population as a whole, and various population subgroups.
Selected Content
Estimates obtained from the CPS include employment, unemployment, earnings, hours of work, and other indicators, available by a variety of demographic characteristics. Data are also collected on occupation, industry, and class of worker. Supplemental questions on a variety of topics are also often added to the regular CPS questionnaire.
Population Covered
The U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population ages 16 years and older.
The basic CPS sample is selected from multiple frames using multiple stages of selection. The sample design is state-based, with the sample in each state being independent of the others. One person generally responds for all household members. The CPS interview is divided into 3 parts: (a) household and demographic information, (b) labor force information, and (c) supplemental information in months that include supplements. Employment information is collected on the job held in the reference week, defined as the 7-day period, Sunday through Saturday, that includes the 12th of the month. Labor force data are published only for persons ages 16 years and older; no upper age limit is used. Full-time students are treated the same as nonstudents. The CPS-ASEC is expanded to include Armed Forces members living in a household that includes at least one civilian and additional Hispanic households that are not included in the monthly labor force estimates. The additional Hispanic sample is drawn from the previous November's basic CPS sample. All CPS data files are weighted; information on weighting procedures is available in the Technical Documentation section of the CPS website.
Response Rates and Sample Size
Prior to 2001, the basic CPS sampled 50,000 households a month. Beginning with 2001, with the introduction of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) sample, the basic CPS monthly sample was expanded to 60,000 households. In 2016, the basic CPS household-level nonresponse rate was 13.5%.
Current Population Survey (CPS)