Research & Analysis by Michael Compson
Improving County-Level Earnings Estimates with a New Methodology for Assigning Geographic and Demographic Information to U.S. Workers
This article describes a new methodology developed by the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (ORES) of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to indicate the state and county of residence, date of birth, and sex of nearly all workers for whom tax records provide earnings data in a given year. Applying these geographic and demographic indicators will enable ORES to use a vastly larger sample of workers to generate annual earnings estimates. The current methodology assigns state and county codes and demographic information only to workers in SSA's 1-percent Continuous Work History Sample—fewer than 1.7 workers million in 2017. The new methodology would assign state and county codes and demographic information to more than 178 million workers for 2017. A much larger sample of workers mitigates the limitations associated with the current estimation process and enables ORES to generate more comprehensive and accurate county-level earnings estimates.
Comparing Earnings Estimates from the 2006 Earnings Public-Use File and the Annual Statistical Supplement
The Social Security Administration recently released the 2006 Earnings Public-Use File (EPUF). The EPUF contains earnings information for individuals drawn from a systematic random 1-percent sample of all Social Security numbers issued before January 2007. This note presents the process of evaluating the earnings data in EPUF. It also identifies and explains four key differences between the data in EPUF and the estimates published in the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin. The note specifically compares EPUF data with Annual Statistical Supplement estimates of earnings, number of workers with earnings, median earnings by sex and age group, and percentage of workers with earnings below the taxable maximum by sex. After accounting for the expected differences, the remaining discrepancies between EPUF and Annual Statistical Supplement estimates are relatively small.
This article introduces the 2006 Earnings Public-Use File (EPUF), a data file containing earnings records for individuals drawn from a 1-percent sample of all Social Security numbers issued before January 2007. The EPUF contains selected demographic and earnings information for 4.3 million individuals. It provides aggregate earnings data for 1937 to 1950 and annual earnings data for 1951 to 2006.