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Sept 15 -- The Census Bureau asks OMB to approve conduct of Phase 3 of the Household Pulse Survey -- from November 2020 through December 2021. The public is invited to provide comments to OMB regarding this request. Comments are due by October 19, 2020.
 
On April 19, 2020, OMB authorized the Census Bureau to conduct the Household Pulse Survey to collect urgently needed data on the experiences of American households as the coronavirus pandemic prompted business and school closures, and widespread stay-at-home orders. Data produced by the Household Pulse Survey are designed to inform on a range of dimensions that American households are experiencing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including employment, facility to telework, travel patterns, income loss, spending patterns, food and housing security, access to benefits, mental health and access to care, and educational disruption (K-12 and post-secondary).

We refer to the initial approval by OMB to conduct the Household Pulse Survey as “Phase 1” (April – July, 2020), and the period approved for the balance of the emergency clearance as “Phase 2” (August – October, 2020). This ICR requests approval to conduct “Phase 3,” starting November, 2020.

Such approval from OMB would provide clearance for three years. Depending on the pandemic and the degree to which the Household Pulse Survey data continue to be useful in response and recovery efforts, the Census Bureau may conclude data collection activities prior to the clearance expiration date.
 
The Phase 3 survey will carry forward the same questionnaire content as Phase 2.  Content has been provided by the Census Bureau (Census); the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA/ERS); the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS); the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the Social Security Administration (SSA); and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Domains include employment status, capacity to telework, income loss, consumer spending, application and receipt of benefits, food and housing security, education disruptions (K-12 and post-secondary), travel practices, dimensions of physical and mental wellness, and access to care.  
 
Upon the launch of Phase 3,  the Census Bureau will consult with agencies and other stakeholders to determine how the survey may need to be revised for subsequent phases, which balancing the burden to survey respondents. With rare exception (typically to make a clarification or correction), the Census Bureau will not introduce revisions to the questionnaire on an ad hoc basis. Rather a revised questionnaire will be deployed as part of a designated new phase (e.g., “Phase 4,” “Phase 5,” etc.). This ensures that the revised instrument includes question and response items that have been tested, and that collection and processing activities are set up to result in timely and reliable data releases. The Census Bureau will monitor the trajectory of the pandemic and continue its engagement with other agencies and stakeholders to determine when future phases make sense to remain responsive to evolving data needs.  

We will field sample in keeping with our approach in Phase 2, i.e., we will release new sample every two weeks and allow households a 13-day window to respond. The sample for each data collection cycle is approximately 1,165,000 housing units.  Assuming a 9 percent response rate, we expect to receive 105,000 responses each data collection cycle.  Sample from each data collection cycle will be independent from the prior cycles.
 
As in Phases 1 and 2, we will provide all information about sampling, weighting, post-survey processing, and cognitive testing results on our website to maximize transparency for the public. This transparency is especially important given the value to decision makers of having rapid bi-weekly state-by-state estimates of the health, social, and economic characteristics of their package.  
 
Household Pulse Survey website: https://www.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products/household-pulse-survey.html
Phase 3 submission to OMB -- click on IC List for survey, View Supporting Statement for narrative on purpose, development, methods, and plan.  
FR notice:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/15/2020-20338/agency-information-collection-activities-submission-to-the-office-of-management-and-budget-omb-for
 
Point of contact: Jason Fields, Social Economic and Housing Statistics Division, Demographic Programs Directorate  jason.m.fields@census.gov

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