- Questionnaire Text
- UnHarmonized Variables
999.99 = N.I.U. (Not in Universe).
This variable is topcoded. With the exception of the months listed below, the topcode in each month is the maximum value of the variable excluding NIU records.
MISH 4: 65.24
MISH 8: 63.34
MISH 4: 66.03
MISH 8: 66.73
MISH 4: 60.51
MISH 8: 59.44
MISH 4: 65.80
MISH 8: 63.34
MISH 4: 65.89
MISH 8: 64.22
HOURWAGE2 reports how much the respondent earned per hour in the current job, for those workers paid an hourly wage (and coded as "2" in PAIDHOUR). Beginning in April 2023, hourly earnings were rounded and topcodes were changed as a privacy protection measure. HOURWAGE2 imposes these criteria on pre-April 2023 data (including the 2023 ASEC) to provide users with comparable hourly earnings over time. See the Census Bureau's user note for more information on the new privacy protection measures. HOURWAGE reports un-rounded hourly earnings for pre-April 2023 data (including the 2023 ASEC) only.
Note that rounding of earnings is part of a set of changes made to preserve respondent privacy that began to be phased in with the MISH 1 group in January of 2023. April of 2023 is the first month in which this MISH group is asked earnings questions. Because of Census Bureau's phased approach to introducing these privacy protection measures, only MISH 4 groups in April 2023 - March of 2024 Basic Monthly samples are rounded and topcoded by the Census Bureau. In these months, IPUMS applies the new rounding rules to the MISH 8 group so that all records have comparable values within months. Users wishing to access a variable in which MISH 4 is rounded and MISH 8 remains unrounded should use UH_ERNHR_B2.
Those reporting hourly earnings between $0.01 and $0.07 are set to $0.05; hourly earnings between $0.08 and $29.99 are rounded to the nearest $0.05; hourly earnings between $30.00 and $49.99 are rounded to the nearest $0.25; hourly earnings $50.00 or higher are rounded to the nearest $0.50. For further information about the changes to earnings data beginning in April 2023 and rounding examples, see the Census Bureau's user note.
With the new rounding scheme, it is no longer possible to identify which persons are earning less than the Federal minimum wage using hourly earnings. To preserve this information, the new variable SUBMINWAGE has been introduced to flag these individuals.
Amounts are expressed as they were reported to the interviewer with rounding applied as described above; users must adjust for inflation using Consumer Price Index adjustment factors. Researchers should use the EARNWT weight with this variable.
Users should note that HOURWAGE2 has two implied decimal places. The command files provided by IPUMS divide HOURWAGE2 by 100, so no further alteration is necessary.
HOURWAGE2 is one of the Outgoing Rotation/Earner Study questions.
The Census Bureau began phasing in the new rounding scheme for individuals in MIS 4 in April 2023. To harmonize prior values of HOURWAGE, IPUMS imposed the new rounding criteria on unrounded values. Records with unrounded hourly earnings were topcoded based on usual hours worked per week. IPUMS rounds values that were topcoded based on usual weekly hours worked; these records are few in number in each month. However, because some of the original hourly earnings values are already topcoded based on usual hours worked, applying a top 3% weighted average may not a true representation of the highest earned hourly wages in the sample. Topcode values in HOURWAGE for those in MISH 8 from April 2023 to April 2024 may be lower than the values that would be calculated using the Census Bureau's new method on un-topcoded data. In these months, MISH 4 and MISH 8 records may have different topcode values. The Census Bureau recommends that users work with the lowest topcode value when analyzing multiple months to which the new dynamic topcode is applied. Though the Census Bureau does not provide specific recommendations for how users should approach handling the comparison of values from before and after the new measures were introduced, IPUMS recommends using the lowest topcode value from HOURWAGE2 across all months being analyzed, including those from before and after the Census Bureau introduced the dynamic topcode. For more information on the new privacy measure including rounding and dynamic topcoding, see the Census Bureau's user note.
Information about hourly wage rates was collected beginning in 1982, as part of a series of questions about usual weekly and hourly earnings. 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 in ASEC data through IPUMS CPS from 1989 forward. Monthly data is available from 1982 forward.
This is true for data from 1989 forward, but in the data itself, the universe for 1982 to 1988 is civilians age 14 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.
- 1982-1988: Civilians 14+ currently employed as wage/salary workers, paid hourly, and in 2 (out of 8) rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
- 1989-1993: Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers, paid hourly, and in 2 (out of 8) rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
- 1990-2001 (ASEC): Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers, paid hourly, and in 2 (out of 8) rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
- 1994-2022 (non-ASEC): Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers, paid hourly, and in 2 (out of 8) rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
- 2002-2023 (ASEC): Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers, paid hourly, and were in outgoing rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
- 2023 (non-ASEC): Civilians 15+ currently employed as wage/salary workers, paid hourly, and in 2 (out of 8) rotation groups. Excludes self-employed persons.
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