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Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Overview of research series on earnings of nonhourly full-time workers from the Current Population Survey

In January 2015, BLS began tabulating quarterly research data series on the usual weekly earnings of nonhourly full-time workers. The quarterly tables begin with data for the fourth quarter of 2014. Annual average tables begin with data for 2013. These series are available at the links below.

These research series were obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which provides information on the labor force, employment, and unemployment. The survey is conducted monthly for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau using a scientifically selected national sample of about 60,000 eligible households that represents all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey also provides data on earnings, which are based on one-fourth of the CPS monthly sample. All self-employed workers, both incorporated and unincorporated, are excluded from the earnings estimates, as are all unpaid family workers.

These data represent usual weekly earnings before taxes and other deductions and include any overtime pay, commissions, or tips usually received (at the main job in the case of multiple jobholders). In the CPS, respondents are asked to identify the easiest way for them to report earnings (hourly, weekly, biweekly, twice monthly, monthly, annually, or other) and how much they usually earn in the reported time period. Earnings reported on a basis other than weekly are converted to a weekly equivalent. For workers who do not report their earnings on an hourly basis, a follow-up question asks if they are paid at an hourly rate on their job. The principal definitions used in these research series are described briefly below.

Nonhourly full-time workers. This concept, which is unique to these research series, refers to employed people age 16 and older who usually work 35 hours or more per week at their sole or principal job and who are not paid by the hour.

Earnings deciles. These research series are presented in deciles. The deciles divide nonhourly full-time workers into 10 groups of approximately equal size. The first decile dollar value represents the upper earnings limit of the lowest earning 10 percent of workers, the second decile the lowest earning 20 percent of workers, the third decile the lowest earning 30 percent of workers, and so forth. For example, about 10 percent of workers earn less than the upper limit of the first decile, while about 90 percent of workers earn more than that value. The fifth decile is the median, or the midpoint in the earnings distribution, with half of workers having earnings above the median and the other half having earnings below the median.

Race. In the survey process, race is determined by the household respondent. In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget guidelines, white, black or African American, and Asian are terms used to describe a person’s race. Data for other race groups—American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders—and for people of two or more races are included in totals but not separately identified in these data because the number of survey respondents is too small to develop estimates of sufficient quality.

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. This refers to people who identified themselves in the survey process as being of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin. People whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race and are included in estimates for the race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) in addition to being shown separately.

These research data are tabulated for workers who do not report being paid an hourly rate. The CPS does not include questions on whether workers are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or any other federal, state, or local statute. While nonhourly workers typically receive a salary, commissions, tips, or pay in kind from a private employer or from a government unit, the survey does not specifically identify salaried workers. Users also should note that these research data are tabulated at a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences. For example, the data are not controlled for differences in important determinants of earnings such as age, occupation, and educational attainment.

BLS began tabulating these research series in response to a request by the Office of the Chief Economist of the Department of Labor.



Last Modified Date: January 18, 2018