Catalog of Holdings

Study Report

Study Number: AH-004-038-10-1-United States-UNICON-1962

Subject Area: Individual

Bibliographic Citation: CPS Utilities: annual social and economic study March files, 1962-2006.  [machine-readable data file] / U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census  [principal investigator(s)] / Unicon Research Corporation  [distributor].

Originating Archive Number: MR1698

Date Accessioned: 6/25/2007

Number of Files Received: 0

Comments: CPS Utilities version 5.5 software is installed to the public-use PCs. Data are stored on two CD-Roms; March 1962-1997 and March 1998-2006. For CPS on the Web, users can visit Unicon Web Site.

Access Status: Access limited to UW-Madison campus

Date Ordered: 5/30/2007

Documentation: Machine-readable only. Additional documents for the annual social and economic study survey are available from the Annual Social & Economic Software V5.5 CD-Rom, (DP7007). This CD-Rom has to be in the CD-Rom drive for CPS Utilities to display the following documents: Dictionary Introduction, List of Variables by Topics, Variable Name Assignments, Variable Dictionary, Changes Since Last Release, Questionnaires, Census Paper: Benefits and Taxes and Census Documents. They are accessible from the CPS Utilities Entry Screen via the General Documentation button.

Abstract: The Current Population Survey (CPS), the source of many official Government statistics, is administered by the Bureau of the Census under the auspices of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The CPS has been conducted for over 50 years. Currently, about 65,000 households are interviewed monthly, scientifically selected on the basis of area of residence to represent the nation as a whole, individual states, and other specified areas. Each household is interviewed once a month for four consecutive months one year, and again for the corresponding time period a year later, resulting in 8 total months in the survey. Each month, new households are added and old ones are dropped. Eight rotation groups (cohorts of households starting their interviews in the same month) are interviewed in any month.

The main purpose of the CPS is to collect information on the employment situation in the U.S. Comprehensive data are available on the labor force activity for the week prior to the survey, as well as employment status, occupation, and industry of adults (currently defined as 15 years of age and older). The survey is also used to collect demographic information, such as age, sex, race, marital status, veteran status, Hispanic origin, educational attainment, and family structure. Periodically, additional questions are included on such topics as health, education, income, and previous work experience.

The CPS sample attempts to represent the civilian noninstitutional population of the United States by using a probability sample to select housing units. The typical unit of observation is individuals within households; however, the March series also has family and household observations. Weights are supplied in the data files to expand the counts to nationally representative levels.

Each month's CPS has a different emphasis. For example, October surveys focus on school enrollment while June surveys feature marriage and fertility issues. The March surveys are especially important as they contain the Annual Demographic File and the Income File. This series is now called the Annual Social and Economic Study. It was formerly titled the Annual Demographic File and Income Supplement. More commonly, it is known as the March supplement. It contains the basic data as well as data on work experience, income sources and amounts, noncash benefits, health insurance, and migration.

The CPS provides a wealth of data but is not the easiest data to use: the March files are hierarchical in nature; over the years variables change and codes vary. Moreover, these changes in questionnaire content are often subtle. The values at which monetary variables are top-coded vary over time, often in ways not clearly spelled out in the documentation supplied with the surveys. Even obtaining data from a single year is not without its pitfalls. The Census-supplied documentation is sometimes incomplete and difficult to interpret, particularly for the older surveys. Determining the universe of respondents for particular questions is frequently not straightforward, requiring researchers to trace through skip patterns on questionnaires. Even the act of finding all variables on a specific topic, determining their coding, and ascertaining the context in which the appropriate questions were asked, can itself be a cumbersome process that requires a time-consuming manual search through the CPS documentation.

The intent of CPS Utilities is to correct the deficiencies of individual CPS files and make the data more accessible. These two CD-ROMs contain the March data from 1962 through 2006. The access software which accompanies the CD-ROMs allows users to view the questionnaire, search variables, select specific variables and create data subset containing variables and years specified by a user. It also offers uniformly recoded versions of selected variables. See also the Unicon Web Site for further information about CPS utilities March files.

Media/File Reports:

7077 (CD-ROM)
7078 (CD-ROM)
7079 (CD-ROM)