Status:Closed    Asked:Aug 04, 2016 - 09:39 AM

Are social security contributions included in wage and salaries variables?

Do the variables relative to wages and salaries include employees and employers social security contirbutions? Or do they give us only the "net" income received by employees, after all contributions have been deducted (but before income taxes)?

Thank you,


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Staff Answer




According to the CPS interviewing manual, earnings are meant to be collected as gross pay, defined as "The total dollar amount usually received by the wage earner before deductions for federal/state income taxes, social security, union dues, etc.."

I hope this helps.


Aug 09, 2016 - 09:23 AM

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Thank you for your answer. It somewhat helps, but not fully. It does tell me that earnings are gross but are they gross before both employee and employer social security contributions or net of employer contributions but gross of employee ones? Similarly, does the FICA variable report payroll contributions of both employees and employers or only employees? Hopefully things are consistent, that is if earnings include both types of contributions then FICA also does and if earnings are net of employers contributions then FICA does not include them. But I'm not sure and I haven't been able to find detailed enough information on this.

Thank you for your help.


Aug 09, 2016 - 10:56 AM

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The FICA variable (like the other tax variables) is actually generated by the Census Bureau, not reported by respondents, so I would recommend contacting the Census Bureau directly to get specific information on how this and the other tax variables are calculated. My interpretation of the documentation is that these variables are meant to represent individual contributions and would therefore exclude employer contributions, but the Census Bureau would be able to provide a definitive answer.


Aug 09, 2016 - 02:16 PM

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Ok, thank you very much for your help.


Aug 10, 2016 - 05:09 AM

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