Current Population Survey (CPS) Data at the NBER

The CPS is the U.S. Government's monthly survey of unemployment and labor force participation. The BLS maintains a CPS Home Page with a great deal of information about the survey and access to downloads of recent data. The NBER maintains an extensive collection of historical CPS public use tapes for its research staff. All of the data is available for download.

Five Categories:

    Basic Monthly Data are the primary source of labor force statisitcs in the U.S. Topics include employment, earnings, and demographic data. CPS Supplements, when collected, are not a part of the Basic Monthly Data files. Households are in the survey eight times: four consecutive months, eight months off, and then a final four months. Available for every month from 1976 on. SAS, SPSS, & Stata data definition statement files are available.

    CPS Supplements, have the same data as the Basic Monthly Files sometimes in a different order, plus supplemental information on topics such as schooling, fertility, immigration, and income. We have many of these files from 1964 to present in the original BLS formats. SAS, SPSS, & Stata data definition statement files and CPS Replicate Weight files are available.

    Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups (MORG) are extracts of the Basic Monthly Data during the household's fourth and eighth month in the survey, when usual weekly hours/earnings are asked. Documentation Files are also available.

    Mare-Winship Files are (nearly) uniform subsets of 168 variables from March Annual Demographic Supplement files. These cover 1964-1992.

    CPS May Extracts are (relatively) standardized extracts of 200 variables made from the CPS May Supplement. These are available for 1967 to 1987; 1978 was the last year in which usual weekly hours/earnings were asked only in May.

CPS Matching Programs used in "An Approach to Longitudinally Matching the Current Population Survey," by Brigitte C. Madrian and Lars John Lefgren, NBER Technical Working Paper No. 247, and "An Approach to Longitudinally Matching Current Population Survey (CPS) Respondents." Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, 2000, 26: 31-62.

Design and Methodology, Current Population Survey, Technical Paper 66 (issued October 2006) describes the sample, design, survey instrument, estimation procedures and more.

CPS Interviewing Manual (revised April 2015) provides detailed instructions to the field staff about how to capture the CPS data while interviewing.

Changes in Metropolitan Areas, 1950-1994 lists each metropolitan area in the CPS, the counties that comprise the MAs, and the changes in the MA's county composition over time. 1990 Land Area for Metropolitan Areas (1998 Definition) lists the changes in the MAs (a handful have been added, or added to) since the publication of the chapter above.

The Relationship Between the 1970 and 1980 Industry and Occupation Classification Systems, U.S. Bureau of the Census Technical Paper 59 1 2 3 4 5 6 app_a app_b app_c app_d

The CPS was redesigned in 1994. Here is documentation about the redesign:

If you have comments or suggestions, e-mail Jean Roth

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