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The Census Bureau has revised plans to change privacy protections in the CPS Public Use File and is seeking comments through July 15, 2022.

If you use the CPS PUF and have insights as to how these changes would affect the value of the data, please consider weighing in. Comments can be emailed to the Census Bureau by 7/15/22 (ADDP.CPS.PUF.List@census.gov), or to the AEA's Economic Statistics and Government Relations Committees by 7/14/22 (martha.starr@aeapubs.org).

A detailed description of planned changes can be found here: https://apps.bea.gov/fesac/meetings/2022-06-10/Paper-Current-Population-Survey-PUF-Disclosure-Avoidance-Proposal-to%20FESAC-061022.pdf.

A thumbnail sketch of proposed changes is as follows.


Full precision reporting in wage and earnings data can act as an identifier. As reported wages and earnings increase, the distribution becomes sparser, requiring a graduated rounding scheme

Initial plan                                                                             Revised plan
Dynamic monthly top-code: reported earnings       Same
for cases in the top 3% will be replaced with the
average in the top 3% for the month. (Replaces
former static top-code and should decrease
the % of top-coded cases).

Usual hourly earnings rounded to nearest                Usual hourly earnings rounded to nearest
$0.50 for wages under $9.99/hour;                              $0.05 for wages under $19.99/hour;
nearest  $1 for wages $10-99.99;                                  nearest $0.25 for wages $20-39.99;
nearest $5 for wages $100-999.99;                              nearest $0.50 for wages above $40/hour.
nearest $10 for wages above $1000/hour.                Rounding stops at the top code.
Rounding stops at the top-code.

Usual weekly earnings rounded to nearest               Usual weekly earnings rounded to nearest
$10 for earnings under $100/week;                             $5 for earnings under $1000/week;
nearest $50 for earnings $100-999;                             nearest $25 from $1,000 to the top-code.
nearest $100 for earnings $1000-9999;
nearest $500 for earnings $10000-99999;
nearest $1,000 for earnings above $100000/
hour. Rounding stops at the top-code.

Flag used to identify workers who earn                     Same
less than the Federal minimum wage.


Re-identification risk exceeds the acceptable threshold for people living in metropolitan areas with populations below 250,000 or non-metropolitan areas.

Initial plan                                                                             Revised plan
Code as “Other” the CBSA identifier for                    Use multivariate regression to impute
metropolitan areas with populations                         CBSA identifier and metro status for
<250,000 and non-metropolitan areas                       for people in metros with populations
                                                                                                 <250,000 and non-metro areas.                 
In both cases metropolitan status                               CBSAs with populations <100,000
coded as “not identified.”                                               are coded as “Other,” with metropolitan
                                                                                                 status coded as “Metro.”

                                                                                                People in non-metropolitan areas have
                                                                                                “Other” as CBSA identifier and “Non-metro”
                                                                                                for metropolitan status.

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