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Federal Government Shutdown: Options for CPS Data Collection

Shail J. Butani, Lawrence S. Cahoon, and Brian Kojetin


The Federal Government shutdowns in November 1995 and again in December 1995 that extended into January 1996 created extraordinary challenges for data collection activities pertaining to the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a national labor force survey of over 50,000 households conducted monthly by the Bureau of Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In addition to being best known for the national monthly unemployment rate—one of the leading economic indicators for the nation—CPS is the source of thousands of labor force statistics at the national and sub-national level. In this paper, we discuss the various options that were considered by the officials at both agencies for collection of November 1995 through January 1996 data and the potential effects associated with each option.