CEPR - Center for Economic and Policy Research


En Español

Em Português

Other Languages

Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press NYT and Alan Krueger Discover that Some People Don't Respond to Employment Surveys

NYT and Alan Krueger Discover that Some People Don't Respond to Employment Surveys

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 11:38

It's always nice when a prominent economist and the NYT pick up on a line of work that we started at CEPR. That is why we are all happy to see David Leonhardt's piece on a new paper by Alan Krueger, the former head of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

The gist of the piece is that Krueger has discovered that many people do not respond to the Current Population Survey (CPS), the main survey used to measure the unemployment rate. Krueger discovered that the unemployment rates are higher for people the first month that they are in the survey than in later months. (People are in the survey for four months, then out for eight months and then back for four months.) The implication is that people who are not responding may be more likely to be unemployed than people who are responding.

This fits well with analysis done by John Schmitt and me nine years ago. That work noted a sharp gap between the employment rates reported in the 2000 Census and the employment rates reported in the CPS for the overlapping months, with the CPS rates being much higher. (The Census has a response rate close to 99 percent, whereas the coverage rate for the CPS is under 90 percent overall. It is under 70 percent for young black men.) The analysis focused on employment rates because employment is much more well-defined than unemployment.

The analysis also noted that the gap was largest for the groups with the lowest coverage rates. In particular the gap was largest for young black men, with the CPS showing an employment rate that was 8.0 percentage points higher than the Census data for the same month. Our conclusion was that the people who respond to the survey are more likely to be employed than the people who don't respond. It's good to see that Krueger appears to have concurred in this finding nine years later.


Note: Link and president corrected.

Comments (5)Add Comment
pretty much the same thing
written by Peter K., August 27, 2014 12:11
He was former head of Obama's CEA.
written by ltr, August 27, 2014 8:16
Schmitt and Baker surely deserve credit. I had read their paper several years ago and keep it in mind.
written by Jimmy Smiles, August 28, 2014 7:41
*John Schmitt and "I"*
written by fledermaus, August 28, 2014 12:59
Really? Economists are discovering "selection bias" in polling just now? Astounding.
And now for something completely different
written by Johan, August 29, 2014 1:19
Dear Mr Baker,

I follow this blog on a daily basis, and I am very grateful for your writings. It is often not easy to see through the mist of biased reporting and the spreading by the right and its benefactors of half-truths and rancid talking points. I'm sorry to say that this is a great problem not only in the US but also in my home country Sweden. Reading what you write has helped me see clearer and identify the flaws in everyday reporting on economic matters.

Anyhow, I just read in Dagens Nyheter (dn.se) the biggest broadsheet over here, that Airbnd is wreaking havoc in Barcelona, Spain. Apparently over-exploitation of that great city by property owners causes trouble in some parts of the city, where the locals are outnumbered by tourists. Only very few apartments are registered as holiday homes. However, vastly bigger numbers of them are in fact being rented out to tourists, courtesy of, in particular, Airbnd. Since you have covered Airbnd on this blog before, I thought I'd give you a tip. Link provided, but I'm afraid it's in Swedish.

Thanks again for all the good work being done on this blog and elsewhere.

Best regards

Johan Hedberg, Stockholm, Sweden


Write comment

(Only one link allowed per comment)

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comments.


Support this blog, donate
Combined Federal Campaign #79613

About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.