Where can I find the data on public employees' educational attainment, such as years of schooling or fraction of employees holding particular degrees? Preferably, compared to educational attainment in the private sector.

The BLS breaks educational attainment by occupations, but government officials hold different occupations, so it's not helpful.

It may be possible to recover education by employer from population surveys, but perhaps special datasets exist? Something like an international or regional cross section would be great.

2 Answers 2


this is easy if you use the public-use microdata.

the public/private-sector workforce variable in the current population survey (cps) is a_clswkr and the educational attainment variable is a_hga

open up cps or acs, subset by public vs private-firm worker, and calculate educational attainment rates.

cps and acs are both representative at the state-level. acs also has pumas, which are sub-state areas.

for international comparisons, look at the codebook for piaac

good luck!

  • Thanks, Anthony. I used cps.ipums.org/cps for education and bea.gov/iTable/… for US states output. Nov 29, 2014 at 17:46
  • are you saying that you crosstabulated from two separate data sources? to answer the question, what is the educational attainment distribution across workforce sectors? you will need a single sample survey that asks the same representative set of individuals both questions. :) Nov 29, 2014 at 21:14
  • No, I aggregated the educational data by state for human capital vs output hypotheses. Nov 30, 2014 at 6:16
  • if you use cps for the entire analysis, you can create a proper respondent-level model using defensible methods rather than state-level aggregations from two separate sources with incalculable confidence intervals May 30, 2015 at 16:24

Depending on your needs, the Quarterly Workforce Indicators dataset might be overkill or awesome, but it is also much more granular and reliable than CPS or ACS, since it is based on administrative records instead of surveys.

Upside: You can get quarterly county-by-industry-by-education-by-sex for either "private only" or "public (state/local only) + private".


  1. The dataset is quite large (and some detailed records may be censored).
  2. There is no national, consolidated version. You pull data state-by-state.
  3. You have to subtract "private only" from "total ownership" to get state & local govt.
  4. Doesn't include Federal. But you can get that from FedScope.

Again, if you're just looking for a small, national tabulation, then this will be overkill. But it's interesting that such insanely detailed data are available if you dig.

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