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Current Population Survey (CPS)

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What is it measuring?

The CPS is the primary source of labor force statistics for the US. It measures employment and unemployment. Among the employed, it counts how many are self-employed, and among those, how many are incorporated versus unincorporated.

What does it tell us?

At the end of 2019, unincorporated self-employed workers comprised approximately 6.2 percent of the workforce. This portion has decreased from roughly 9 percent in 1980.

How is it collected?

CPS is conducted monthly via telephone and in-person interviews.

Who collects it?

The US Census Bureau in collaboration with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


The CPS is representative at the state and local level, and has been consistently collected using rigorous sampling methods since 1940. It only captures a narrow definition of the gig economy--the unincorporated self-employed. In addition, research has suggested that many non-traditional workers do not consistently identify their work arrangements.

How to access this data?

Data is publicly available from several sources, including DataWeb, DataFerret, and IPUMS. Charts available through FRED Economic Data.