Blog: COVID-19 Pulse Surveys from the U.S. Census Bureau

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Blog: COVID-19 Pulse Surveys from the U.S. Census Bureau

By: Mallory Bateman

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

In late April, the Census Bureau applied for emergency clearance of two surveys to measure the impacts of COVID-19 to people and businesses across the nation. These surveys, Household Pulse and Small Business Pulse, are the result of coordination across six federal agencies – the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Center for Health Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the USDA Economic Research Service.[1] The Household Pulse Survey was scheduled to run for 12 weeks, while the Census Bureau requested an extension of data collection for the Small Business Pulse Survey for the next three years.[2]

Results are released on a weekly basis, with Week 3 being released on May 27. The results are available for national, state, and the fifteen largest metropolitan areas. Both have their own interactive data hubs if you would like to see the highlights of the Household Pulse Survey or the Small Business Pulse Survey.

Initial results indicated a difficult situation for Utah businesses and households, although some impacts in the state were felt by a smaller share of the population than in other parts of the country.

After 3 sets of data, here are some additional Small Business Pulse Survey findings for Utah:

  • Overall, businesses see more moderate negative effects than large negative effects from COVID-19
  • Nearly two-thirds of small businesses had received financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, which was very similar to the national picture
  • The share of Utah businesses receiving no financial assistance dropped from just over half in late April to one-third by mid-May, slightly higher than the nation with 28% by mid-May
  • Like the nation, most Utah businesses had not shifted their production to other goods or services

The first two sets of data from the Household Pulse Survey show the following for the population 18 and over:

  • Those with a loss of income increasing slightly from about 40% to 44%
  • Those expecting a loss of income decreasing slightly, from 28.7% to 27.2%
  • Food scarcity increasing in Utah from 6.1% to 9.7%
  • The share of those housing insecurity remaining fairly stable at around 15%
  • Everyone asked about K-12 educational changes had experienced them

The Household Pulse survey has additional topics that are not part of the interactive page. While still limited to the state level, these tables (for Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3) provide insights into the characteristics of the population including age, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and health status, in relation to:

  • Education, including time spent by parents on coursework, computer availability, and internet access for lessons
  • Employment, including loss and expected loss of income
  • Food sufficiency and security, including sufficiency for all households, households with children, and by other selected characteristics
  • Health, including mental health status and access to medical care
  • Housing, including ability to pay rent or mortgages and confidence to pay next month

Hopefully as this data set continues to grow it will be a useful resource for those trying to understand the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mallory Bateman is a senior research associate and state data center coordinator at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. 

[1] Covid-19 Household Pulse Survey – Request for Emergency Review and Clearance (Letter), U.S. Census Bureau, April 15, 2020

[2] Federal Register Notice

2020-06-03T08:53:54+00:00June 3rd, 2020|Blog, Census Resources, COVID-19, Demographics|