Question about IPUMS Full-Time worker classification according to WKSAT

I’m compaing IPUMS-CPS WKSTAT with the BLS/CPS PRWKSTAT. I take it the two are the same, except the codes are different. However, I notice that who is classified as full-time according to IPUMS (code numbers are between 11 and 15) is different from the BLS/Census classification (codes 2 through 5).

According to the BLS/Census classification, full time is:

FT Hours (35+), ususally FT + PT for eco reasons, usually FT + PT for non-eco reasons, usually FT + Not at work,usually FT.

According to IPUMS, Full-time is classified as:

FT Hours (35+), ususally FT + PT for non-eco reasons, usually FT + Not at work,usually FT + FT hours, usually PT for eco reasons + FT hours, usually PT for non-eco reasons

According to IPUMS, people working PT non Eco but usually FT can be classified as FT (see code 12) and people working FT but usually PT are also FT (codes 14 and 15). But if the individual is PT Econ,usually FT (code 21), they are not classified as FT.

According to the BLS/Census, only those who are PT but usually FT are classified as FT but not th other way around.

Why is the IPUMS classification for full-time different from the BLS/Census’s especially given that WKSTAT is just a recode of PRWKSTAT?

A couple notes may help clarify this issue.

First, note that according to BLS documentation available here, the full time vs. part time classification is based on the usual weekly hours at all jobs regardless of the number of hours they are at work during he reference week. 35+ hours is full time, less than that is part time. (The IPUMS CPS variable for usual hours at all jobs is UHRSWORKT.) If you are seeing an alternative BLS definition elsewhere please let me know.

Second, note that WKSTAT is a basic re-code of the PRWKSTAT variable and IPUMS CPS provides the full detail availble in the originoal variable. So you can apply any classification of full time vs. part time that you’d like. The only difference is the order in which the response categories are listed. This ording is largely path dependent as the categories available for this variable have changed over time.

Finally, I do agree that the way the coding has evolved for the WKSTAT variable is a bit counter-intuitive. The first and second digits do seem to imply an, at least implicit, full time vs. part time classification. Importantly, this classification does not necessarily align with official classifications. I will raise this issue with the IPUMS CPS Team and discuss clarifying these codes.