Data on respondents' usual earnings (inclusive of  tips, overtime, and bonuses but before deductions) have been collected during every Young Adult survey year for each employer for whom the respondent worked more than two weeks and more than 9 hours a week since the last interview date. The amount of earnings, reported in dollars and cents, is coupled with information on the applicable unit of time, such as per day, per hour, per week, or per year. Between 1994 and 1998, those respondents reporting any unit of time other than "per hour" have been asked a follow-up question on whether they were paid by the hour on that job; if so, an hourly wage rate was collected.

From 1994 to 2014, the wage questions in the Young Adult questionnaire closely paralleled those in the NLSY79. As part of the YA2016 redesign, the choices for reporting both regular and overtime pay were revised based on a review of 'other-specify' responses. These questions were also streamlined so that all respondents report regular rate of pay in one place.

Wage data for the spouse/partner's main job in the preceding calendar year, including time unit and rate of pay, are also collected.

Additionally, each survey year, young adult respondents provide their total income from wages and salary during the calendar year preceding the year of the survey. Starting in the 2000 survey year, if a respondent has difficulty coming up with an exact amount, they are asked for their best estimate. Respondents who are married or who have a partner are asked about wages received by their spouse or partner.

Comparison to Other NLS Cohorts: In the NLSY79, data on respondents' usual earnings (inclusive of tips, overtime, and bonuses but before deductions) have been collected during every survey year for each employer for whom the respondent worked since the last interview date. Two sets of variables provide information based on the combined earnings and time unit data. The first set, 'Hourly Rate of Pay Job #1-5,' provides the hourly wage rate for each job as reported. A second set of variables based on responses to the initial set of wage/time unit questions, entitled 'Hourly Rate of Pay Current/Most Recent Job,' identifies the hourly earnings for the job identified as the CPS job, that is, the job that the respondent held most recently. Starting in 1988, NLSY79 children age 10 and older have been asked about the number of hours usually worked and usual earnings in a week. 

In the NLSY97, several questions are used to determine the job's rate of pay as of the start date. The rate may be defined according to different scales (such as per month, per week, per day, or per hour). Additional information is collected on whether the respondent received any pay from overtime, tips, commissions, bonuses, incentive pay, and other sources when the job started. Questions about freelance employment gather information about the usual number of hours the respondent worked per week and the usual weekly earnings as of the job's start date. In rounds 1-3, respondents who were age 16 or older and reported earning $200 or more per week at a freelance job were considered self-employed.

For the Original Cohorts, rate of pay is available for the CPS job and for many dual or intervening jobs. For more precise details about the content of each survey, consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide using the tabs above for more information.


Survey Instruments Wage-related questions are found in the Young Adult Instrument, Section 7, Jobs & Employers Supplements; Section 3, Dating & Relationship History, and Section 15, Income & Assets.
Areas of Interest YA Income
YA Dating and Marriage
YA Job Information