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Census Bureau Wants To Take Your Coronavirus 'Pulse'

Luis Guzman, who lost his job as California went into shutdown, relies on the bus the to get around. As an undocumented worker who will not be recieving any money from the federal stimulus package. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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With just over 50% of households having responded to the 2020 census, and with the looming possibility of changed census deadlines and an undercount caused by the pandemic, the Census Bureau has decided to launch a $1.2 million experiment called the "Household Pulse Survey" to try to gauge the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bureau tells NPR that survey responses -- combined with demographic information such as race, ethnicity and income -- could help policymakers figure out how best to get through the crisis and better understand its impact on employment, education, health, food and housing security.

The survey will be conducted only via email, with no word yet on how the Census Bureau would account for the many households not reached via that channel.

Questions will include:

  • Are you getting enough food to eat?
  • How often have you been bothered by feeling depressed or hopeless?
  • Did you wait to see a doctor because of the pandemic?
  • How many hours are you spending teaching any children in your home?
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Results of the new household survey are also set to be published weekly on the bureau's website, along with a similar one for businesses.

NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reported earlier today that the current Spanish version of the "Household Pulse Survey" incorrectly states that its purpose is to help with "planning for the 2020 census"—misinformation likely to lead to a lot of confusion.


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