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Data Dictionary: ACS 2012 (1-Year Estimates)
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Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Table: B08528. Means of Transportation to Work By Class of Worker For Workplace Geography [70]
Universe: Universe: Workers 16 years and Over
Table Details
B08528. Means of Transportation to Work By Class of Worker For Workplace Geography
Universe: Universe: Workers 16 years and Over
Variable Label
Relevant Documentation:
Means of Transportation to Work
The data on means of transportation to work were derived from answers to Question 31 in 2012 American Community Survey, which was asked of people who indicated in 2012 ACS Question 29 that they worked at some time during the reference week. (See "Reference Week.") Means of transportation to work refers to the principal mode of travel or type of conveyance that the worker usually used to get from home to work during the reference week.

People who used different means of transportation on different days of the week were asked to specify the one they used most often, that is, the greatest number of days. People who used more than one means of transportation to get to work each day were asked to report the one used for the longest distance during the work trip. The category, "Car, truck, or van," includes workers using a car (including company cars but excluding taxicabs), a truck of one- ton capacity or less, or a van. The category, "Public transportation," includes workers who used a bus or trolley bus, streetcar or trolley car, subway or elevated, railroad, or ferryboat, even if each mode is not shown separately in the tabulation. "Carro publico" is included in the public transportation category in Puerto Rico. The category, "Other means," includes workers who used a mode of travel that is not identified separately within the data distribution. The category, "Other means," may vary from table to table, depending on the amount of detail shown in a particular distribution.

The means of transportation data for some areas may show workers using modes of public transportation that are not available in those areas (for example, subway or elevated riders in a metropolitan area where there is no subway or elevated service). This result is largely due to people who worked during the reference week at a location that was different from their usual place of work (such as people away from home on business in an area where subway service was available), and people who used more than one means of transportation each day but whose principal means was unavailable where they lived (for example, residents of nonmetropolitan areas who drove to the fringe of a metropolitan area, and took the commuter railroad most of the distance to work).

Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey 2012 Summary File: Technical Documentation.
Class of Worker
Class of worker categorizes people according to the type of ownership of the employing organization. Class of worker data were derived from answers to question 41 in the 2012 American Community Survey. Question 41 provides respondents with 8 class of worker categories from which they are to select one. These categories are:

  1. An employee of a private, for-profit company or business, or of an individual, for wages, salary, or commissions.
  2. An employee of a private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt, or charitable organization.
  3. A local government employee (city, county, etc.).
  4. A state government employee.
  5. A Federal government employee.
  6. Self-employed in own not incorporated business, professional practice, or farm.
  7. Self-employed in own incorporated business, professional practice, or farm.
  8. Working without pay in a family business or farm.
These questions were asked of all people 15 years old and over who had worked in the past 5 years. For employed people, the data refer to the person's job during the previous week. For those who worked two or more jobs, the data refer to the job where the person worked the greatest number of hours. For unemployed people and people who are not currently employed but report having a job within the last five years, the data refer to their last job.

The class of worker categories are defined as follows:

Private wage and salary workers
Includes people who worked for wages, salary, commission, tips, pay-in-kind, or piece rates for a private, for-profit employer or a private not-for-profit, tax-exempt or charitable organization. Self-employed people whose business was incorporated are included with private wage and salary workers because they are paid employees of their own companies.

ACS tabulations present data separately for these subcategories: "Employee of private company workers," "Private not-for-profit wage and salary workers," and "Self-employed in own incorporated business workers."

Government workers
Includes people who were employees of any local, state, or Federal governmental unit, regardless of the activity of the particular agency. For ACS tabulations, the data are presented separately for the three levels of government.

Employees of Indian tribal governments, foreign governments, the United Nations, or other formal international organizations controlled by governments were classified as "Federal government workers."

The government categories include all government workers, though government workers may work in different industries. For example, people who work in a public elementary school or city owned bus line are coded as local government class of workers.

Self-employed in own not incorporated business workers
Includes people who worked for profit or fees in their own unincorporated business, profession, or trade, or who operated a farm.

Unpaid family workers
Includes people who worked without pay in a business or on a farm operated by a relative.

Editing Procedures
A computer edit and allocation process excludes all responses that should not be included in the universe and evaluates the consistency of the remaining responses. Class of worker responses are checked for consistency with the industry and occupation data provided for that respondent. Occasionally respondents do not report a response for class of worker, industry, or occupation. Certain types of incomplete entries are corrected using the Alphabetical Index of Industries and Occupations ( If one or more of the three codes (occupation, industry, or class of worker) is blank after the edit, a code is assigned from a donor respondent who is a "similar" person based on questions such as age, sex, educational attainment, income, employment status, and weeks worked. If all of the labor force and income data are blank, all of these economic questions are assigned from a "similar" person who had provided all the necessary data.

These data are used to formulate policy and programs for employment and career development and training. Companies use these data to decide where to locate new plants, stores, or offices.

Question/Concept History

Class of worker data have been collected during decennial censuses since 1910. Starting with the 2010 Census, class of worker data will no longer be collected during the decennial census. Long form data collection has transitioned to the American Community Survey. The American Community Survey began collecting data on class of worker in 1996. The questions on class of worker were designed to be consistent with the 1990 Census questions on class of worker. The 1996-1998 ACS class of worker question had an additional response category for "Active duty U.S. Armed Forces member." People who marked this category were tabulated as Federal government workers. A check box was added to the employer name questionnaire item in 1999. This check box is to be marked by anyone "now on active duty in the Armed Forces..." This information is used by the industry and occupation coders to assist in assigning proper industry codes for active duty military.

Limitation of the Data

Beginning in 2006, the population in group quarters (GQ) was included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations have class of worker distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the class of worker distribution in some geographic areas with a substantial GQ population.

Data on occupation, industry, and class of worker are collected for the respondent's current primary job or the most recent job for those who are not employed but have worked in the last 5 years. Other labor force questions, such as questions on earnings or work hours, may have different reference periods and may not limit the response to the primary job. Although the prevalence of multiple jobs is low, data on some labor force items may not exactly correspond to the reported occupation, industry, or class of worker of a respondent.


Class of worker categories have remained consistent since the implementation of the American Community Survey in 1996. The 1996-1998 ACS class of worker question had an additional response category for "Active duty U.S. Armed Forces member" in order to assist industry and occupation coders in assigning proper industry codes for active duty military. People who selected this category were tabulated as Federal government workers. Active duty U.S. Armed Forces have been coded as Federal government workers from 1996 to 2011.

See also, Industry and Occupation.