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Unemployment compensation income


For all persons, INCUNEMP reports the total income they received from unemployment compensation. Please refer to the IPUMS user note on Income Data in MEPS for more information on the collection, editing (including top- and bottom-coding), and imputation of income variables in MEPS, as well as changes to the target population for income data collection over time. Users may also be interested in the data quality flag, QINCUNEM, which reports the editing methods used for INCUNEMP.

If respondents needed more information about what types of income to report as unemployment compensation income, they were provided with the additional guidance: "Payments made by a State government to a person who is unemployed. Payments are usually at regular intervals and over a fixed period of time. These amounts can be found on form 1099-G."

Information on the IPUMS defined-universe for this variable 

Users may wish to note that, while IPUMS defines the universe for this variable as all persons, certain persons were explicitly targeted to answer questions about specific income sources. In addition to the target population of persons who were asked specifically about unemployment compensation income, all persons in the household were eligible to list additional income from "other" sources, which includes income from sources previously asked about in the survey (such as unemployment compensation income). It is unclear if unemployment compensation income reported as an "other" income source is counted in unemployment compensation income or "other" income. Because all persons could technically report unemployment compensation income via the "other" income questionnaire item, IPUMS staff report the universe for INCUNEMP as being "All Persons." Users may also wish to note that in the original public use MEPS data files, no income variables have cases explicitly coded as out of universe; both persons who directly report earning zero dollars of income from a source and persons who are not explicitly asked about that income source have values of zero.


INCUNEMP is an 8-digit numeric variable with 2 implied decimals.

99999996: Not in Universe
99999997: Unknown-refused
99999998: Unknown-not ascertained
99999999: Unknown-don't know


While all persons could report unemployment compensation income regardless of age and tax filing status if they reported it as an "other" income source, certain persons were explicitly asked questions about unemployment compensation income. The persons specifically targeted to answer these questions changes over time, with an expansion of the target population beginning in 2002. For more information on how income data were collected by MEPS and changes to the target population for these questions over time, please see the IPUMS user note on Income Data in MEPS.

Beginning to 1999, persons could only report income in full dollar amounts. Prior to 1999, persons could report income in dollars and cents.


  • 1996-2019: All persons.


  • 1996-2019