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How Does the Dramatic Rise of CPS Non-Response Impact Labor Market Indicators?


  • Bernhardt, Robert
  • Munro, David
  • Wolcott, Erin


Since 2010 and before the pandemic hit, the share of households refusing to participate in the Current Population Survey (CPS) tripled. We show that partially-responding households - households that respond to some but not all of the survey's eight panels - account for most of the rise. Leveraging the labor force status of partially-responding households in the months surrounding their non-response, we find that rising refusals artificially suppressed the labor force participation rate and employment-population ratio but had little discernible effect on the unemployment rate. Factors robustly correlated with state-level refusal rates include a larger urban population, a smaller Democratic vote share (our proxy for sentiment towards government), and the economic and social changes brought about by manufacturing decline.

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  • Bernhardt, Robert & Munro, David & Wolcott, Erin, 2021. "How Does the Dramatic Rise of CPS Non-Response Impact Labor Market Indicators?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 781, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:781

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew Halpern-Manners & John Warren, 2012. "Panel Conditioning in Longitudinal Studies: Evidence From Labor Force Items in the Current Population Survey," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(4), pages 1499-1519, November.
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    More about this item


    Current Population Survey; Non-Response; Unemployment; Labor Force Participation; Employment-Population Ratio;
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    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search


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