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Improving Data to Analyze Food and Nutrition Policies
states (the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey); and a possible data source for analyzing food consumption behavior of the low-income population (the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program).
CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY
The CPS is an ongoing monthly survey of about 56,000 households, which is fielded by the U.S. Census Bureau and supported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The Census Bureau and other federal agencies pay for periodic supplements to the main labor force survey.) Its primary purpose is to provide estimates of employment, unemployment, and other characteristics of the labor force. Each year, beginning in 1995, USDA has supported a supplement (currently fielded in December) on food expenditures, food assistance program participation, food insecurity, and ways of coping with not having enough food—see Box 4-1.
The CPS sample design is state representative, and its large size will support state-level estimates when the data are averaged over 3 years. Response rates are high, averaging 92 percent for the main labor force survey, although 12 percent of households do not complete the food insecurity module.1
The food expenditure, program participation, and food insecurity data from the December supplement can be analyzed with information from the main CPS questionnaire, which includes demographic characteristics for all household members, detailed information on labor force participation and usual hours worked and earnings for household members aged 15 and older, and total household income. Because of the rotating design of the CPS and the recent expansion of the March income supplement to include households in February and April, about one-half of the households in the December sample can be matched with the same households in February or March that have detailed income, program participation, and health insurance coverage information for the preceding calendar year from the renamed Annual Social and Economic Supplement.2 The combi-
Personal communication from Mark Nord, Economic Research Service, USDA, May 31, 2005.