The Current Population Survey (CPS), sponsored jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is the source of the official Government statistics on employment and unemployment.
The CPS has been conducted for over 50 years and interviewed about 54,000 households on a monthly basis. These households are scientifically selected on the basis of area of residence to represent the Nation as a whole, individual States, and other specified areas. Each household is interviewed once a month for four consecutive months in a year, and again for the corresponding time period a year later. This technique enabled Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to obtain month-to-month and year-to-year comparisons at a reasonable cost while minimizing the inconvenience to any one household.
Although the main purpose of the survey is to collect information on the employment situation, a very important secondary purpose is to collect information on the demographic status of the population, information such as age, sex, race, marital status, educational attainment, and family structure. From time to time additional questions are included on such important subjects as health, education, income, and previous work experience. The statistics resulting from these questions serve to update similar information collected once every 10 years through the decennial census. The CPS sample is based on the civilian non-institutional population of the United States. The sample is located in 826 sample areas comprising 1,328 counties and independent cities with coverage in every State and in the District of Columbia.