Industry and Occupation

When gathering information on both the employed and recently unemployed, the CPS asks respondents about the characteristics of their work, including the industry and occupation.

Industry versus Occupation
Any employed individual has both an industry of employment and an occupation. Although many of the general descriptions of industry and occupation categories are similar, they are not synonymous. An individual’s industry of employment typically describes what kind of business their employer is in. An individual’s occupation describes what kind of work that individual does for their employer. For example, a respondent’s occupation might be “nurse,” while their industry might be “hospital.” Similarly, a respondent might have the occupation “accountant,” but could have the industry “mining” or “telecommunications,” depending on what type of company they provide accounting work for.

What variables measure industry?
In the CPS, industry is measured with various levels of detail. In the most current iteration of the survey, PRAGNA delineates agricultural and non-agricultural industries, PRDTIND1 and PRDTIND2 provide a detailed industry recode, PRMJIND1 and PRMJIND2 provide a major industry recode, PEIO1ICD and PEIO2ICD provide the industry codes for a respondent’s job(s), and PRMIND1 and PRMIND2 provide intermediate industry recodes.

What variables measure occupation?
Like industry, occupation is recorded with various levels of detail in the CPS. As an example, in the current version of the CPS, PRMJOCGR provides major occupation categories, PRDTOCC1/2 provides a detailed occupation recode, PRMJOCC1 and PRMJOCC2 provide a major occupation recode, and PEIO1OCD and PEIO2OCD provide the occupation codes for a respondent’s job(s).

Note that the industry and occupation variables have undergone major transformations throughout the years, most recently in the 2003 update to the survey. For this reason, researchers should take care in tracking industry and occupation backwards through time to ensure both categories are correctly mapped to their previous values.