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Codes and Frequencies

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Racial categories in the CPS have been more consistent than racial categories in the census. Up through 2002, the number of race categories ranged from 3 (white, negro, and other) to 5 (white, black, American Indian/Eskimo/Aleut, Asian or Pacific Islander, and other). Beginning in 2003, respondents could report more than one race, and the number of codes rose to 21, and then up to 26 codes in 2013.


For ASEC samples in 1962-1987, only "white," "negro," and "other" races were recognized. "American Indian/Aleut/Eskimo" and "Asian or Pacific Islander" were added beginning in the 1988 ASEC, and "other" was dropped beginning in the 1997 ASEC. Only "white", "black" and "other were recognized in the Basic Monthly samples from 1976-1988, and the slightly more detailed codes which appear in the 1988 ASEC become available in Basic Monthly samples beginning in 1989. Comparability across all years prior to 2003 can be achieved by combining all codes except "white" and "negro/black" into a single "other" category.

Beginning in 2003, the groups "Asian" and "Hawaiian/Pacific Islander" were separated, rather than combined into a single classification, yielding 5 single race categories ("white," "black," "American Indian/Alaskan native," "Asian," and "Hawaiian/Pacific Islander"). Because respondents could report more than one race beginning in 2003, 14 specific combinations of 2 to 4 race groups were given for 2003 forward, as were the nonspecific categories of "two or three races" and "four or five races."

Beginning in 2013, the Census Bureau introduced a new coding scheme that includes all race combinations of up to 4 races for a total of 26 groups.

Comparability with IPUMS-USA

IPUMS-CPS uses the same codes for racial categories as IPUMS-USA, but the meaning of those codes is sometimes very different. For example, "other" serves as a residual category in both data sets, but a larger number of groups is subsumed under this label in IPUMS-CPS (e.g., all persons not identified as "white" or "negro" up through 1987). Similarly, the code "650" refers to all Asians or Pacific Islanders in IPUMS-CPS but excludes identified subgroups such as "Chinese" and "Japanese" in the general RACE variable in IPUMS-USA. In the 2000 census and the ACS, respondents could report as many races as necessary to describe themselves. Multiple race identification was not incorporated in the CPS until 2003. Because of the inclusion of the nonspecific categories "two or three races" and "four or five races" beginning in 2003 for the CPS, researchers cannot identify all persons who mentioned a particular race, and the dichotomous race codes of RACAMIND, RACASIAN, RACBLK, RACPACIS, and RACWHT of census 2000 and the ACS cannot be exactly duplicated for IPUMS-CPS. These dichotomous categories can be approximated, however, because only a few respondents were coded as "two or three races" and "four or five races" for 2003 forward in the CPS.


  • 1962-1967 (ASEC): Persons age 14+ (pre-1968 samples do not include persons under age 14).
  • 1968+ (ASEC): All persons.
  • 1976+ (non-ASEC): All persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1962 – 1975 - - X - - - - - - - - - -
1976 – 2023 X X X X X X X X X X X X X
2024 X X - X X X - - - - - - -