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9999.99 = N.I.U.

Top codes:

1989-1997: 1923 (Weekly earnings of $1923 or more).
1998-onward: 2885 (Weekly earnings of $2885 or more: ASEC samples only). 2884.61 for non-ASEC samples.

See User Note for an explanation of these codes.


EARNWEEK reports how much the respondent usually earned per week at their current job, before deductions. Interviewers asked directly about total weekly earnings and also collected information about the usual number of hours worked per week and the hourly rate of pay at the current job. The figure given in EARNWEEK is the higher of the values derived from these two sources: 1) the respondent's answer to the question, "How much do you usually earn per week at this job before deductions?"; or 2) for workers paid by the hour (and coded as "2" in PAIDHOUR), the reported number of hours the respondent usually worked at the job, multiplied by the hourly wage rate given in HOURWAGE.

The values in EARNWEEK are in dollars, with no implied decimal places; a value of 500 means that the respondent earned five hundred dollars per week before deductions. Amounts are expressed as they were reported to the interviewer; users must adjust for inflation using Consumer Price Index adjustment factors. Researchers should use the EARNWT weight with this variable.

EARNWEEK is one of the Outgoing Rotation/Earner Study questions.


Apart from the effects of inflation, this variable is comparable over time.

Users should note that EARNWEEK originally had no implied decimals in ASEC samples, but there were 2 implied decimals in non-ASEC samples for EARNWEEK. Command files provided by IPUMS divide EARNWEEK by 100 to harmonize this difference.

The Census Bureau reports that the results in the CPS public use files for this data series included errors for ASEC files prior to 1989. As a result, these variables are only available through IPUMS CPS from 1989 forward.

According to Technical Paper 66, issued jointly by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals eligible for the earner study are civilians age 15 and older in rotation groups 4 or 8 who are not self-employed.

 In any given month, approximately 1/4 of the CPS sample is in the earner study and each household should appear in the earner study exactly twice. Based on documentation from Unicon and NBER, and after an inspection of the original CPS data, we recommend that users impose the CPS eligibility restrictions in any analyses of earner study variables.


  • 1989-2001 (ASEC): Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers and in 2 (out of 8) rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
  • 1989+ (non-ASEC): Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers and in 2 (out of 8) rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
  • 2002+ (ASEC): Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers and were asked the "earner study" questions. Excludes self-employed persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1989 – 2018 X X X X X X X X X X X X X
2019 X X - X X - - - - - - - -