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Real-Time Population Survey (RPS)

January 22, 2021

Employment Rate Steady in Mid-January

  • The employment rate for working-age adults (18–64) was 68.6 percent in the RPS for the week of Jan.10–16, unchanged from the estimate for the week of Dec. 6–12.
  • In mid-December, the RPS employment rate of 68.6 percent was below the most recent Current Population Survey (CPS) estimate of 70.3 percent for working-age adults (18–64). The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which draws on the CPS for its unemployment rate report, continued to report that some individuals “with a job but absent from work because of the coronavirus” were misclassified as employed during the CPS interviewing process.

    In contrast, the RPS did not record an unusually high number of persons not at work, suggesting that the same misclassification did not occur in the RPS. Reclassifying the individuals absent from work in the CPS survey leads to an adjusted employment rate among working-age adults of 69.6 percent for the week of Dec. 6–12.

Chart 1

Downloadable chart | Chart data

Unemployment Rate Declines

  • The unemployment rate in the RPS was 11.4 percent for Jan.10–16, a decrease relative to the estimate of 12.1 percent for Dec. 6–12.
  • In mid-December, the unemployment rate of 12.1 percent in the RPS exceeded the official CPS estimate of 6.5 percent for working-age adults (18–64) and is also above the alternate estimate of 7.1 percent after reclassifying those “absent from work because of the coronavirus’’ as unemployed.

Chart 2

Downloadable chart | Chart data

Labor Force Participation Drops

  • The labor force participation rate was 77.4 percent in the RPS for Jan.10–16, a decrease relative to the estimate of 78.0 percent for Dec. 6–12.
  • In mid-December, the RPS participation rate estimate was 78.0 percent, compared with an estimate of 75.2 percent in the CPS.

Chart 3

Downloadable chart | Chart data

Next release: February 19
RPS Authors

The RPS was developed by Alexander Bick, an associate professor at WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State University; Adam Blandin, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Virginia Commonwealth University; in collaboration with Karel Mertens, a senior economic policy advisor in the Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

RPS