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U.S. Economy

About the RPS

An effective economic policy response to the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis requires timely and accurate information on its impact. Most traditional economic statistics, such as employment data, fail in this regard because they are released with a significant lag.

To help reduce the information gap, we introduced the Real-Time Population Survey (RPS), an online survey of adults that are representative of the U.S. population along several key characteristics. The central goal of the RPS is to document labor market trends in real time and at a higher frequency than official statistics.

The RPS was developed by Alexander Bick and Adam Blandin and outlined in “Real-Time Labor Market Estimates During the 2020 Coronavirus Outbreak.” It was initially completed in late March and early April 2020. The authors partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on the survey beginning in May 2020.

The core of the RPS closely follows the main labor market questions in the Current Population Survey (CPS), the primary household survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The RPS generates real-time labor market statistics that are consistent with the official measures but are available up to six weeks earlier and updated twice as often.

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.