NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Current Population Survey (CPS) Basic Monthly 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 CPS basic monthly files contain information on labor force status but do not contain the full income and demographic data contained in the March supplements, nor do they contain usual hours or wages except for the households in the outgoing rotation group.

A housing unit in the CPS is interviewed for four consecutive months and then dropped out of the sample for the next eight months and is brought back in the following four months. So, in any given month, one-eighth of the housing units are interviewed for the first month. When the system has been in operation for a full year, four of the eight rotation groups for any month will have been in the survey for the same month, one year ago. Matching information and Stata .do files from NBER Working Paper t0247 by B. Madrian and L. J. Lefgren are available for March-to-March Annual Demographic File matches but can be modified for use in matching CPS Basic Monthly Data. Technical Paper 63 contains more information about Design and Methodology.

Both ".Z" and ".zip" files can be uncompressed with winzip. In addition, ".Z" files can be uncompressed using the UNIX uncompress command and ".zip" files can be unzipped with pkunzip. To check your ability to uncompress these files, download the small files compress.Z or compress.zip. They give an example of how to read in .Z and .zip ASCII files into SAS for UNIX without decompressing the files.

To download files in Internet Explorer, right click on them and select "Save Target As...". If the pdf documents appear to be all blank pages, get the latest Acrobat Reader at www.abobe.com.

All data files follow the naming convention cpsbYYMM where YY is year and MM is month. The 1976-1988 data documentation calls every group of six Characters a Word. To convert Words and Characters into plain characters multiply the number of previous Words by six and add the number of character positions within the designated Word. That will give the location of the first character of the variable of interest. For example, State is in Word 3, Characters 5-6. 2 previous words * 6 = 12 + 5 = 17 = the starting location of State.

The file layouts are the basically the same for the following periods: 1976-1988, 1989-1993, 1994-1997, and 1998-2004. SAS, SPSS, and Stata data definition statement files for 1989 on are available. Merge.sas gives an example of how to read in multiple months and years and merge them into a single datafile.

From 1976-1993 variables and record lengths can vary by record type as described in the documentation.

Weekly hours/earnings are not included in these files from 1976-1983. From 1976-1978, these variables are available in the May Extracts. From 1979 on, these variables are available in the Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups.

NOTE: Usually, the documentation from January applies to an entire year. Execptions are 1984-1985 and 1994-1995. The January 1984 documentation is used through to June 1985. The July 1985 documentation applies to the remainder of 1985. For 1994-1995, the January 1994 documentation is used through August 1995. The September 1995 documentation serves for the rest of the year.

Thanks to David Card at Berkeley for providing the 1989-1993 at ftp://elsa.berkeley.edu/pub/cps/complete/.

Updates and changes.

NBER internal Users can access the data from a UNIX shell at /home/data/cps-basic or on an NBER PC via Network Neighborhood --> NBER --> home --> data --> cps_basic

Year
All
Pkzip
Compressed
Docs
Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1976 1976 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec bas78.pdf
1977 1977 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1978 1978 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1979 1979 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1980 1980 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1981 1981 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1982 1982 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec bas82.pdf
1983 1983 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec cpsb83.pdf
1984 1984 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec bas84.pdf **
1985 1985 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec bas85.pdf **
1986 1986 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec bas86.pdf
1987 1987 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1988 1988 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
SAS, SPSS, and Stata programs are available for the raw datafiles for 1989 on.
1989 1989 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec cpsjan89.pdf
cps89.ddf
1990 1990 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1991 1991 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1992 1992 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec cps92.pdf
cps92.ddf
1993 1993 Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
You can Download these files faster ( 1994 - on ) from the Data Ferret FTP Page
1994 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan94cps.pdf**
1995 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec sep95cps.pdf**
cpsbsep95.ddf
1996 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1997 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1998 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec cpsjan98.pdf
jan98dd.asc
 
he.txt
he99
he00
he01
he02
1999 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
For 2000-Census based weights, 2002 NAICS-based industry codes, 2000 SOC-based occupation codes, and revised class of worker and union variables for 2000-2002 CPS Basic Monthly Data files, please visit CPS Extracts.
2000 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2001 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2002 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Several major changes affected the 2003 CPS.   For more information about the changes, please visit CPS Extracts.
2003 -- Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan03
he.txt he03
2004 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec may04   geo he.txt
he04
he05
2005 -- Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2006 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec aug05
2007 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan07  
Dec 2007
December 2007 revised weights
rwdec07.zip rwdec07  
2008 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan07  
2009 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan09  
2010 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan10  
2011 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2012 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec may12  
2013 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan13  
2014 -- Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec jan14  
You can Download these files faster ( 1994 - on ) from the Data Ferret FTP Page

** Usually, the documentation from January applies to an entire year. Execptions are 1984-1985 and 1994-1995. The January 1984 documentation is used through to June 1985. The July 1985 documentation applies to the remainder of 1985. For 1994-1995, the January 1994 documentation is used through August 1995. The September 1995 documentation serves for the rest of the year.


To report problems or if you have comments or suggestions, e-mail jroth@nber.org

Last Update: September 2, 2014 Created by Jean Roth April 10, 2000
 
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