Occupation codes in other datasets at IPUMS

[Let me know if this is not the best forum for this question. I figure it’s a starting point given the connection to CPS, with which I most familiar, and I’m not aware of a general forum.]

I’m new to using the occupation codes in the CPS and it occured to me that some other datasets at IPUMs would also have occupation codes. Moreover, they might have perhaps different codes or additional codes or job-related variables not in the CPS or ACS. Long story short, I’m looking for data (USA) about physical therapists and physical therapist assistants (which are sometimes lumped together with pt aides). I assume CPS and ACS are the usual sources used (along with data the BLS collects), but are occupation codes in the health databases or other sets at IPUMs?


The CPS topic is a reasonable place to post this question; for future reference there is also a forum for general questions.

I can provide more detail on each collection if you have a particular research question in mind. This webinar also may be of interest as it provides an overview of how to study the health workforce using IPUMS data with a particular emphasis on how to study their health care utilization and expenditures using IPUMS Health Surveys. Broadly speaking, aside from the ACS and CPS, data on occupations is provided in the following IPUMS US data collections:

  • IPUMS Health Surveys (OCC in the NHIS and OCCCATRD in the MEPS)
    Both OCC and OCCCATRD are less detailed than OCC in the ACS/CPS, reporting occupations using two digits rather than four. The NHIS identifies Occupational and physical therapist assistants and aides, while the MEPS lumps them into Service occupations.

  • IPUMS Time Use (OCC in the ATUS)
    You might use ATUS data if you are interested in questions relating to time spent on different activities (e.g., work, sleep, education, etc.) by occupation. Since the ATUS is administered by the Census Bureau to a subset of CPS respondents, occupations are reported using the same level of detail as in the CPS. In fact, OCC_CPS8 is drawn from the final CPS interview.

    You might use IPUMS NHGIS to study the distribution of physical therapists on granular geographic levels such as counties, cities, and census tracts. Since summary tables are drawn from ACS data, the most detail that is available uses the same coding system as the ACS. However, this is only for national estimates. Tables using more granular geographies will aggregate occupation codes into more general categories.

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Thank you, Ivan. Regarding the OCC category for “Occupational and physical therapist assistants and aides.” Where would physical therapists (DPT degree) be placed? I didn’t see them in the codebook linked. I.e., neither PT assistants or PT aides are physical therapists (about 260,000 people have the graduate degree as a PT, far fewer are assistants or aides). Perhaps the code is mislabeled or are PTs lumped with another group?

I’m not sure I understand. How can I use NHGIS to study distribution a the county level if the data from NHGIS only give occupation code details at the national level?

You can find a crosswalk from NHIS occupation codes to Census Bureau codes in the NHIS codebooks that are released on the CDC website. The appendix to the 2020 adult codebook (the first year to code occupation based on the 2018 Census Bureau system) provides this crosswalk on page 621. Physical therapists are assigned to the Census Bureau occupation code 3160, which is then coded into OCC = 29 “Health diagnosing and treating practitioners” in the NHIS. This code groups physical therapists with other healthcare professionals (but not technicians) with Census Bureau codes from 3000-3270.

I was perhaps not entirely clear in my description of the data on NHGIS. While four-digit Census Bureau occupation codes are only identified on a national level in NHGIS, some aggregations of these codes are available on the county level. For example, the table B24010 Sex by Occupation for the Civilian Employed Population 16 Years and Over provides aggregate estimates of the number of men and women by county for 150 different occupational groups. This is not as detailed as the 565 codes that are available on the national level, but it more precisely identifies physical therapists than the NHIS does by grouping them with other therapists under Healthcare practitioners and technical occupationsHealth diagnosing and treating practitioners and other technical occupations.