CFDP 2282

Measuring the U.S. Employment Situation Using Online Panels: The Yale Labor Survey


Publication Date: April 2021

Pages: 69


This study presents the design and results of a rapid-fire survey that collects labor market data for individuals in the United States. The purpose is to test online panels for their application to social, economic, and demographic information as well as to apply this approach to the U.S. labor market. The Yale Labor Survey (YLS) used an online panel from YouGov to replicate statistics from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the government’s official source of household labor market statistics. The YLS’s advantages included its timeliness, low cost, and ability to develop new questions quickly to study unusual labor market patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from the YLS track employment data closely from the CPS during the pandemic. Although YLS estimates of unemployment and participation rates mirrored the broad trends in CPS data, YLS estimates of those two rates were less accurate than for employment. The study demonstrates the power of carefully crafted online surveys to replicate expensive traditional methods quickly and inexpensively.

Keywords: Employment, Unemployment, Survey, Weighting

JEL Classification Codes: J1, J11, C83

JEL Classification Codes: J01J11C83

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