Earnings and Rate of Pay

The CPS also tracks, to a limited degree, the wages and earnings of respondents. These wage numbers are not to be confused with the average and aggregate wages, earnings, and hours reported in the Employment Situation report, as those figures are sourced from the Establishment Survey data. The wages and earnings data in the CPS are only collected on the fourth and eight months that an individual is in the survey, meaning that in any given month, only one-fourth of respondents are answering wage questions.

Periodicity of Rate of Pay
Individuals who are eligible to answer the wages and earnings questions are those who are employed and in their fourth or eighth month of the survey. Before specifying a number, the individuals are asked about the periodicity of their earnings. In the variable PEERNPER, respondents can define whether they are paid weekly, hourly, monthly, annually, etc. Following this, respondents are asked whether or not they are paid at an hourly rate and are in fact, hourly workers.

Some earnings information is available in the CPS, and all earnings questions are top-coded. The current format of these questions in the CPS, for instance, caps the earnings reported on a weekly basis at $2,884.61. Additionally, earnings information is not available for all respondents in all months of the survey. Because only the outgoing rotation groups (respondents in months four and eight) are asked these questions, only one-fourth of the survey at most provides answers in a given month.
Not all respondents are hourly workers. For this reason, the survey includes two sets of earnings questions, one for all workers and one for only those workers who are hourly. All workers are asked the sequence of questions including the variable PUERNH1C, while only workers who are paid hourly are asked the sequence of questions including PEERNH2, PRERNHLY, and PEERNH10.

In addition to the hourly rate of pay, the variable PRERNWA provides a weekly rate of pay for all respondents answering earnings questions. Those respondents who answer that they work and are paid for overtime are asked about their overtime earnings on a weekly basis. These responses can be found in PEERN and PUERN2.