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Current Population Survey (CPS) October Supplement

1. Overview

September Supplement:
  • Conducted only in 2001
  • Collected data on the availability and use of computers and the Internet at school, home, and work.
October Supplement:
  • Conducted annually
  • Collects data on household members 3 years old and over on school enrollment status.

The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of 50,00060,000 households conducted by the Bureau of the Census, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor. The basic monthly CPS collects data about the employment, unemployment, and other characteristics of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the United States; it excludes military personnel and their families living on post, inmates of institutions, and residents of homes for the aged. Since the late 1960s, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has sponsored the October Supplement to the CPS to capture additional information on school enrollment status and related topics for household members 3 years old and over, thus providing current estimates of school enrollment as well as of the social and economic characteristics of students.


The October Supplement is designed to collect information on the school enrollment of household members in any type of public, parochial, or other private school in the regular school system. Such schools include nursery schools, kindergartens, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, and professional schools. Additional supplementary questions are designed to collect information on various topics of interest.


The October Supplement is an annual addition to the basic monthly CPS. The information collected is described below. A member of each household who is at least 15 years old provides information for all members of the household.

October Supplement. The October Supplement collects information on the school enrollment status and educational attainment of household members 3 years old and over, including highest grade completed, level and grade of current enrollment, attendance status, number and type of courses taken, degree or certificate objective, and type of organization offering instruction for each member of the household. A dozen core questions in the interview instrument for the October Supplement have remained unchanged since 1967. Since 1987, additional questions have been included on business, vocational, technical, secretarial, trade, and correspondence courses; on the grade the student was attending in the previous year; on the calendar year that the student received his or her most recent degree; on whether or not the student completed high school by means of an equivalency test (such as a General Educational Development [GED] credential); and on whether or not children ages 3 to 5 are enrolled in any kind of nursery school, kindergarten, or elementary school. From time to time, additional items address such topics as private school tuition, adult education, vocational education, computer and internet use, language proficiency library, use, disability status, and student mobility.

Basic CPS. The basic CPS collects monthly data on household membership, household characteristics, demographic characteristics, and labor force participation of the civilian noninstitutionalized population 15 years of age and over. However, published data focus on those ages 16 and over. The basic CPS is collected each month from a probability sample of approximately 50,00060,000 occupied households.


The basic CPS is conducted monthly. The October Supplement to the CPS is an annual supplement.  

Data Availability

Current data for CPS can be located at The data are updated monthly. Historical CPS data are also available beginning in 1947 through present at