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Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Research series on percentiles of usual weekly earnings of nonhourly full-time workers

In September 2023, BLS began tabulating new quarterly research data series on the usual weekly earnings of nonhourly full-time workers. The tables begin with data for the first quarter of 2022.

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 percentiles. These research series are presented in percentiles that divide nonhourly full-time workers into 20 groups of approximately equal size. The 5th percentile dollar value represents the upper earnings limit of the lowest earning 5 percent of workers, the 10th percentile the lowest earning 10 percent of workers, the 15th percentile the lowest earning 15 percent of workers, and so forth. For example, about 5 percent of workers earn less than the upper limit of the fifth percentile, while about 95 percent of workers earn more than that value. The 50th percentile 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 Assistant Secretary for Policy of the Department of Labor. A previous research series presented earnings deciles of nonhourly full-time workers (2013-2017).

Tables (XLSX)

Last Modified Date: April 16, 2024