Census Bureau Backs Down

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A few weeks ago, Census announced significant changes to the Current Population Survey (CPS).  Here’s my summary of the proposal.

  1. Currently geographic areas with population less than 100,000 are suppressed in the CPS public use file.  The proposal would increase that to 250,000.
  2. While households surveyed remain anonymous, each is assigned an ID (the HRHHID). This can be used to track household behavior over time. These codes will be changed and the 2022 data will not be able to be matched with previous years.
  3. The highest earnings is topcoded at $2,884.61.  The revision would change the topcoding every month using an algorithm.
  4. Various weekly earnings and hours will be rounded.  In previous years there was no rounding.

Here’s the full Census release.


Ben Casselman Census Bureau Backs Down

Ben Casselman

Economics Twitter erupted in fury. Led by Nick Bunker (@nick_bunker), Ben Casselman (@BenCasselman), Jason Furman (@JasonFurman) and Alex Mas (@AlexMasPton), there was massive criticism of the proposal.  Labor economists were especially incensed as this change would kill any hope of research using micro-level longitudinal data.

Jason Furman on women in the labor force

Jason Furman

Here’s Ben Casselman’s summary, followed by the official Census release.



The next time somebody complains about Twitter being useless, point them to this article.

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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.