On April 14th, the U.S. Census Bureau announced the beginning of a new data collection phase of the experimental Household Pulse Survey— an on-going effort by the Census Bureau and other federal agencies to collect and release data on a bi-weekly basis that measures household experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. The data is extremely current because it is released mere weeks after it is collected. Specifically, the agencies are curious to see how individuals are experiencing business curtailment and closures, stay-at-home orders, school disruptions, changes in the availability of consumer goods and consumer patterns, and other abrupt and significant changes to American life. Child advocates have used this data to analyze the condition of households with children by state, such as food insecurity, access to education, and the confidence that parents can afford upcoming rent or mortgage. The new phase, Phase 3.1, includes substantial revisions to the previous iterations of the questionnaire.
Child advocates are excited to see that the additional questions in Phase 3.1 address child health access, childcare, disability, and telehealth. Also included in the new phase are demographic questions to identify service members and military spouses, and questions to classify respondents employed in “essential” worker occupations. We are disappointed to see that the demographic questions still only ask whether the household includes children under the age of 18, and does not ask whether they are under 5 or school-aged. Child advocates remain concerned about the decline in child visits to pediatricians and the struggles of parents to find childcare during the pandemic.
Results of the Household Pulse Survey are available through the Household Pulse Survey Interactive Tool, detailed tables and a public use data file on the Census Bureau website here. The first batch of Phase 3.1 data will be released on May 5th.