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Place of work: metropolitan status


PWTYPE indicates whether respondents who worked last week worked primarily within a metropolitan area (codes 1-4), and, if so, whether they worked within a metropolitan central city (codes 1-3). A metropolitan area includes a large city (the "central city") and surrounding counties that are economically integrated with that city; see METAREA for detailed definitions.

Respondents were asked the name of the town or city where they worked and whether they worked within the city limits. Their answers were recoded in the samples for each year to fit the PWTYPE format.

In 1980, responses to questions about place of work were coded for only half the persons included in the IPUMS. These cases provide accurate proportional distributions but not correct absolute numbers for the general population. For correct absolute numbers, users should select cases coded as 2 in MIGSAMP and multiply by 2 as well as by PERWT.

Note about 2012 ACS samples: The Census Bureau redraws PUMA boundaries every 10 years based on population information gathered from the most recent decennial census. The 2012 ACS files are the first to use the new PUMA codes and boundaries based on the 2010 Decennial Census. The Census Bureau also constructs Place of Work PUMAs (PWPUMA00) to be used with place of work variables. Because this variable is based on Place of Work PUMA boundaries in contemporary samples, it is not currently available for 2012 ACS files. IPUMS-USA is working on constructing as many identifiable units as possible based on the new Census 2010 PWPUMAs.

Users who wish to construct this variable can use the logic described in the comparability statement to identify geographic areas using PWPUMAs. A map showing the new Census 2010 PWPUMAs is available in the IPUMS-USA Geographic Tools area.

Codes and Frequencies

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While this variable represents an attempt to measure the same thing in all years, its comparability is limited by differences in coding practices, in sample designs, and in the number of areas classified as metropolitan.

Only the 1970 and 1980 samples include information on whether an individual's workplace in the central city of a metropolitan area was located inside (code 2) or outside (code 3) the central business district. For 1970, the distinction was made for all persons working in the central city of a metropolitan area. For 1980, this distinction was made only for persons who lived and worked in the same metropolitan area. For persons who did not live and work in the same metropolitan area (those who lived in a different metropolitan area, in a non-metropolitan area, or in a mixed metro-non-metro area), only the act that their workplace was in the central city was reported (code 1 rather than code 2 or 3).

The coding schemes for persons who did not work in a metropolitan area - who worked outside a metropolitan area, abroad, or whose workplace location was not classified (because it was in a mixed metro-non-metro area) or unknown - were very inconsistent across samples. In 1980, persons working abroad or whose workplace was not reported or classified are included in the N/A category. For comparability across all years, therefore, users must combine the N/A category (code 0), the categories for work outside a metropolitan area (codes 6 through 8), and the Not reported/unknown category (code 9). For comparability across years other than 1980, the N/A category can be kept separate, but other categories for work outside a metropolitan area and/or unknown (codes 6 through 9) must be combined.

Data on place of work, organized by whether the individual lived in a metropolitan area, are available for 1980 in PWMET98. For 2000, PWTYPE00 provides more detailed information than in PWTYPE about the PUMA (for the 5 percent sample) or the Super-PUMA (for the 1 percent sample) where the individual's workplace was located.

In the 2005-2011 ACS and the 2005-2011 PRCS, PWTYPE was constructed using PWSTATE2 and PWPUMA00.


  • 1960-1970: Persons age 14+ who worked last week.
  • 1980: Persons age 16+ who worked last week; 50 percent of cases (see MIGSAMP); not available for Puerto Rico.
  • 1990: Persons age 16+ who worked last week; not available for Puerto Rico.
  • 2000: Persons age 16+ who worked last week.
  • ACS, PRCS: Persons age 16+ who worked last week.


United States
Puerto Rico
  • 2017: --
  • 2016: --
  • 2015: --
  • 2014: --
  • 2013: --
  • 2012: --
  • 2011: All samples
  • 2010: PRCS; PRCS 3yr; PRCS 5yr
  • 2009: All samples
  • 2008: All samples
  • 2007: All samples
  • 2006: All samples
  • 2005: All samples
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: --
  • 1980: --
  • 1970: All samples
  • 1930: --
  • 1920: --
  • 1910: --



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