The State of Working America Data Library provides researchers, media, and the public with easily accessible, up-to-date, and comprehensive historical data on the American labor force. It is compiled from Economic Policy Institute analysis of government data sources. Use it to research wages, inequality, and other economic indicators over time and among demographic groups.
Users may freely cite data obtained here, crediting as follows: the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America Data Library.
The suggested academic citation is: Economic Policy Institute, State of Working America Data Library, “[Name of series],” 2021. Researchers are also encouraged to acknowledge the statistical agencies that originally produced the data, listed under the tables.
Reporters and researchers seeking context for this data beyond that provided in the glossary and methodology are encouraged to contact email@example.com.
Data on the labor force in the “Employment” section are compiled from EPI analysis of basic monthly Current Population Survey microdata. Data reflect 12-month moving averages as of the latest month of data.
For detailed documentation of our wages and benefit calculations, see methodology.
Data represent people ages 16 and older unless otherwise noted.
Race/ethnicity categories are mutually exclusive.
- Black: Black non-Hispanic
- White: White non-Hispanic
- Hispanic: Hispanic any race
Educational categories are mutually exclusive and represent the highest education level attained for all individuals ages 16 and older.
- Less than high school: No high school diploma or equivalent.
- High school: Earned a high school diploma or equivalent, such as the General Education Development (GED) credential.
- Some college: Earned a high school diploma or equivalent and completed one or more postsecondary courses but earned less than a four-year bachelor’s degree.
- Bachelor’s degree: Earned a bachelor’s degree.
- Advanced degree: Earned a master’s, doctoral, or professional degree.
Entry-level high school graduates are ages 17–20. Entry-level college graduates are ages 21–24. Sample is restricted to those who are not enrolled in school.
Hourly wages (CPS ORG)
Wages from the CPS ORG are the hourly wages of a population subsample that includes all wage and salary workers with valid wage and hour data, whether paid weekly or by the hour. In order to be included in our subsample, respondents had to meet the following criteria:
- ages 16 and older
- employed in the public or private sector (self-employed were excluded)
- hours worked were within the valid range in the survey (1–99 per week, or hours vary—see discussion below)
- had either hourly or weekly wages within the valid survey range
For those who met these criteria, an hourly wage was calculated in the following manner: If a valid hourly wage was reported, that wage was used throughout our analysis. For salaried workers (those who report only a weekly wage), the hourly wage was their weekly wage divided by their hours worked. For more information on our hourly wage methodology (including our method of smoothing clumps in the wage distribution), see methodology.
Data from the CPS ASEC include all wage and salary workers ages 18–64. Self-employed workers are excluded from the sample, with the exception of data for years 1967 and 1973 which are derived from Murphy and Welch (1989) and include the self-employed.
Data from the SSA include all workers based on reports by employers on Forms W-2.
For more information on our annual wage calculations, see methodology.
Benefits & compensation
Health insurance and pension coverage
Due to a survey redesign, health insurance data from 2013 and onward are not comparable with data prior to 2013.
Health insurance and pension coverage data are for private-sector wage and salary workers ages 18–64 who worked at least 20 hours per week and 26 weeks per year. This sample is chosen to focus on those with regular employment. Coverage is defined as workers who received health insurance from their own job for which their employer paid for at least some of the coverage.
The definition of part time in state data differs slightly from that used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS only looks at workers who say they “usually” work part time, whereas this data set includes anyone who worked less than 35 hours in the reference week. Additionally, the data presented here may differ slightly from the BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics database, which contains model-driven estimates of state and local employment that reflect additional factors such as unemployment insurance statistics.
Hirsch and Macpherson (2003): EPI analysis of data from Hirsch, Barry, and David Macpherson. 2003. “Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey: Note.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 349-54. http://unionstats.gsu.edu/Hirsch-Macpherson_ILRR_CPS-Union-Database.pdf
Kopczuk, Saez, and Song (2010): EPI analysis of data from Kopczuk, Wojciech, Emmanuel Saez, and Jae Song. 2010. “Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1973.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, February. http://eml.berkeley.edu//~saez/kopczuk-saez-songQJE10mobility.pdf
Murphy and Welch (1989): EPI analysis of data from Murphy, Kevin, and Finis Welch. 1989. Recent Trends in Real Wages: Evidence From Household Data. Paper prepared for the Health Care Financing Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. University of Chicago.
Civilian noninstitutional population: The civilian noninstitutional population consists of people 16 years old and older residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces or living in institutions (such as correctional facilities or nursing homes).
Compensation: Compensation is made up of both nonwage payments, referred to as fringe benefits, and wages. Compensation includes employer payments for health insurance, pensions, and payroll taxes (primarily payments toward Social Security and unemployment insurance).
Labor force: People 16 years old and older residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia who either have a job or are actively looking for a job, and are not on active duty in the Armed Forces or living in institutions (such as correctional facilities or nursing homes).
Production and nonsupervisory workers: Workers who are not owners and do not primarily supervise the work of others (following the BLS definition by industry). Production and nonsupervisory workers typically account for about 82 percent of private-sector payroll employment.
Wage deciles/percentiles: Wage deciles divide full-time workers into 10 groups of equal size. The first decile dollar value represents the upper earnings limit of the lowest-earning 10 percent of workers, the second decile dollar value is the upper earnings limit of the lowest-earning 20 percent of workers, and so forth. For example, 10 percent of workers earn less than the upper limit of the first decile, while 90 percent of workers earn more than that value. The fifth decile is the median, or the midpoint in the earnings distribution, with half of workers earning above the median and the other half earning below the median.