Class of Worker

Class of Worker

In each survey year, older men and young men respondents provided data on their class of worker status. Respondents reported whether they (1) worked for a private company or an individual for wages, salary, or commission; (2) were government employees; (3) were self-employed in their own business, professional practice, or farm; or (4) were working without pay in a family business or farm. In addition, level of government data (gathered after 1977) and information on whether a business or professional practice is incorporated (collected at each interview) are included as coding categories in the later survey years. The reference job for these class of worker variables is usually the "current or last job"; however, during the early survey years, the reference job was the "current job." Definitions for class of worker classifications are listed in Figure 1.

Each year, survey staff created collapsed versions of the class of worker variables combining the questions described above. These variables distinguish between: (1) wage and salaried workers (including those self-employed respondents who work in an incorporated business); (2) workers self-employed in unincorporated businesses or farms; and (3) those working without pay on family farms or businesses. These collapsed variables are available for all respondents regardless of current employment status; class of worker status for respondents who are unemployed or out of the labor force is derived from the last job reported.

Class of worker data are available not only for the current or last job but also, during select years, for one or more intervening jobs held since the date of the last interview or for dual jobs held during the survey week.

Older and Young Men employment information collected during the early survey years focused on "jobs" while more recent surveys centered on "employers." Users are urged to carefully consult the survey instruments and to be sensitive to the possibility that persons reporting a new job may still be with their former employer.

Survey Instruments and Documentation: Questions relating to class of worker can be found in the various "Current Labor Force Status," "Work Experience," or "Work History" sections of the Older and Young Men questionnaires. The method of creating the collapsed class of worker variables is provided within each cohort's codebook.

Figure 1. Definitions of CPS Class of Worker Entries

Private Employees are those who work for wages, salary, commission, tips, piece-rates or pay in kind. This applies regardless of the occupation at which the employee worked, whether general manager, file clerk, or porter. Includes persons working for pay for settlement houses, churches, unions, and other private nonprofit organizations.

Federal Government Employees are those who work for any branch of the Federal Government. Includes persons who were elected to paid Federal offices, civilian employees of the Armed Forces, and some members of the National Guard. Also includes employees of international organizations (e.g., United Nations) and employees of foreign governments, such as persons employed by the French Embassy or by the British Joint Services Mission.

State Government Employees are those who work for State governments and include paid State officials (including statewide JTPA [Job Training and Partnership Act] administrators), State police, and employees of State universities and colleges.

Local Government Employees are those who work for cities, towns, counties, and other local areas. Included would be city-owned bus lines, electric power companies, water and sewer service, local JTPA offices, etc. Also includes employees of public elementary and secondary schools.

Self-employed Worker refers to a person working for profit or fees in their own business, shop, office, or farm.

Without Pay refers to a person working without pay on a farm or in a business operated by a related member of the household. Room and board and a cash allowance are not counted as pay for these family workers.

Never Worked refers to a person looking for work who never before held a full-time job lasting two consecutive weeks or more.

Source: Interviewer's Manual: Current Population Survey. Washington, DC: Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, July 1985.