Weekly Census Bureau survey provides timely info on households during COVID-19 pandemic


R-H Staff



UNITED STATES — The first results from the new U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey released this past week show that many households have experienced loss in employment income, are concerned about food security, and have deferred decisions to access health care.

The survey is intended to provide crucial weekly data to help understand the experiences of American households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adults who responded reported feeling anxious or nervous more than half the days last week or nearly every day 29.7 percent of the time.

The data provide insight on employment status, spending, food security, housing, education disruptions, and health.

In this initial release, the Household Pulse Survey Interactive Tool provides data for select indicators at national and state levels. National data also are available in table format. We plan subsequent weekly releases through late July, and will include additional estimates for states and the 15 largest metropolitan statistical areas.

For the April 23-May 5 period, we sent invitations to 1,867,126 households and a total 74,413 responded (63,003 complete interviews and 11,410 partial interviews).

Among some of the key findings:

Overall, how have adults in the U.S. fared with respect to employment income during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Among the population of adults 18 and over, 47 percent either lost employment income or another adult in their household had lost employment income since March 13. Thirty-nine percent of adults expected that they or someone in their household would lose employment income over the next four weeks.

Getting enough to eat is an important measure of well-being, what is the current level of food sufficiency?

About 10 percent of adults reported that they did not get enough of the food they needed some of the time or often. Another 32 percent report getting enough, but not the kinds of food they needed.

On average, households spent $196 a week to buy food at supermarkets, grocery stores, online, and other places to be prepared and eaten at home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful and unprecedented period, how has it affected mental well-being?

Adults who responded reported feeling anxious or nervous more than half the days last week or nearly every day 29.7 percent of the time.

They reported not being able to stop or control worrying more than half the days last week or nearly every day 22.8 percent of the time.

For measures related to depression, 18.6 percent of adults report feeling down more than half the days or nearly every day last week, and 21.4 percent reported having little interest or pleasure in doing things more than half the days or nearly every day last week.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly taxed the health system, has that impacted the household population in general?

Yes, 38.7 percent of adults report that over the last four weeks, they delayed getting medical care because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Housing security has also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, how much?

Being unable to pay rent or mortgage on time was reported by 10.7 percent of adults, while another 3.2 percent reported they deferred payments.

When asked about the likelihood of being able to pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time, 21.3 percent reported only slight or no confidence in being able to pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time. Another 2.5 percent reported next month’s mortgage is or will be deferred.

In the last week, how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect time spent on education?

In households with children enrolled in public or private school (K-12), adults spent 13 hours on average on teaching activities during the last seven days.

The Household Pulse Survey data are produced and released as part of the Census Bureau’s Experimental Data Product Series.

R-H Staff