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Monthly Financial Insecurity Estimates using the Household Pulse Survey

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Working Paper Number SEHSD WP2023-03


During the COVID-19 pandemic it has become increasingly important to be able to measure and release estimates measuring the economic well-being of the population on a timely and frequent basis. The Census Bureau releases its annual estimates of poverty from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) and the American Community Survey (ACS) in the fall, which measures well-being during the previous year. Given the current demand for current and frequent statistics, there are two deficiencies with the current situation. First, annual poverty rates are not able to capture significant month-to-month change in economic conditions. Second, although the CPS ASEC and ACS estimates are processed and released relatively quickly, there is still a 9-month lag from the reference period; the 2022 results will be released in September 2023. The Household Pulse Survey (HPS) alleviates both of these issues by releasing data on a bi-weekly basis and only a few weeks after data collection. We create a new monthly insecurity estimate based on how difficult it is for respondents to pay usual household expenses. We plot this over time in order to view the month-to-month change in insecurity from April 2020 through June 2022. We also compare our insecurity measure to replicates of a monthly official poverty measure and monthly Supplemental Poverty Measure produced by other researchers. These three rates are a suite of well-being measures that can potentially be produced and released on a monthly basis.

Page Last Revised - January 24, 2023
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