Hourly wages ACS

Hi there,

I am currently working with the pooled ACS 2009-2011 data and I computed hourly wages as follows: I took the variable “INCWAGE”, I divided it by “WKSWORK2” (“WKSWORK1” unluckily is not available for this sample), and then I divided the resulting weekly wage by “UHRSWORK” to obtain the final weekly wage.
I think this procedure is fine (correct me if I am wrong), but I end up with an average hourly wage of around $29/h, which I think is quite high.

Do you have an idea of the reason why I get such a weird result? Is it a problem related to the sample I selected?
Many thanks in advance!

You may be getting high numbers if you are not accounting for top (in the case of INCWAGE) or bottom codes (in the case of WKSWORK2 or UHRSWORK), which indicate missing data rather than actual values in some cases. Refer to the description tabs for INCWAGE, WKSWORK2, and UHRSWORK to read more about the top and bottom codes used for each variable. Also, you may see abnormally high hourly wages if you run your calculations without converting WKSWORK2 values to their actual values (for instance, a WKSWORK2 value of 1 is actually equivalent to “1-13 weeks”) You can read more about this in the codes tab for WKSWORK2.

I calculated average hourly wage using the same approach you describe, but restricting based on top and bottom codes and estimating WKSWORK2 using the midpoint of the range, and ended up with a lower median hourly wage (closer to the $12.7 rate reported for 2009).