Military service member earnings: allowances(?)

Can anyone speak to if and where in the ACS PUMS "non-wage"compensation paid to military servicemembers shows up?

For example "Basic Housing Allowance"? (which, I believe, might be paid directly by the service to a private provider, or provided in kind by the military)

I guess I have two questions really, one is where is such compensation SUPPOSED to be reported, the second is, in practice, is it included where it is supposed to be reported or anywhere on the ACS, or does it tend to be un or under-reported (for example when compared to administrative records or known pay and benefit scales)?

I am finding that for the areas that I am looking at in CA, at least 95% of persons employed by the military report zero "other income" ("OIP"). Also military servicemember in the area I am looking at are LESS likely than the general population to report not paying rent (TEN==4).

This matters for things like producing estimates of households that are income-eligible for means-tested programs, such as SNAP, where benefits like housing allowance are included in the eligibility calculation. If they are NOT being reported in servicemember's income at all in the ACS, then this could, make it look like they are eligible in the ACS, but they actually would not be eligible when they submit an application.

It looks like military pay stubs total pay and allowances, so it seems reasonable to think that servicemembers would actually report that total as their earnings.

  • Two points:
    On rental percent, how are you specifying the universe for military and non-military population?
    Are you including or excluding group quarters in your analysis? Are you limiting by age? Are you limiting the ratios to those who are renters (i.e. excluding owners)?
    Specification may be part of the issue. It is also useful to consider that (1) military families have much lower rates of homeownership than the general population due to frequent moves, and (2) over the past several years, even "military" housing has been privatized, so those who live on base do pay rent (or live in group quarters and are not in the owner/renter universe).

    On pay, I do not have a clear answer about where people may be reporting that income, but I will note that military families who might otherwise qualify for SNAP are directed to enroll in Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance ( In other words, there may be some families using SNAP, but they should not be. They should be getting military pay adjustments instead.