Gaps in Employment

Gaps in Employment

Between-Job Gaps

Young Adult respondents provide dates for the beginning and ending of each job reported in a survey round or carried over from a previous round. From 1994 through 1998, the Young Adult survey included a section called “Gaps When Not Working or in Military”. Respondents were asked the main reason they did not work during any gaps in employment: on strike, on layoff, quit job but returned to same employer, job ended for a period of time but began again, or some other reason. If the respondents were on unpaid vacation or leave, they provided details for that leave: going to school, in the Armed Forces, pregnancy, had health problems, had problems with child care, had other personal or family reason, school shut down (for school employees only), or did not want to work. In addition, respondents provided the number of weeks they were looking for work or on a layoff. If they were not looking for work during the gap, they provided the main reason (for instance: ill, in jail, transportation problems). The “Gaps When Not Working or in Military section” was eliminated in 2000. Researchers can still determine when such gaps appear, however, by using information collected on start and stop dates for both jobs and military service.

Within-Job Gaps

From 1994 to 1998, the Young Adult survey included the same detailed questions about within-job gaps as did the NLSY79. Since 2000, only two questions about within-job gaps are asked: has the respondent taken any unpaid leave of one week or more, and, if so, the total number of weeks of unpaid work.

Maternity Leave

Beginning in 2008, the Young Adult survey has included a series of questions for female respondents on work experiences around the birth of each child. These questions were modeled on the 1983 maternity leave questions in the NLSY79. In 2008, this series was asked retrospectively about leaves surrounding the births of all children. Beginning in 2010, maternity leave questions are only asked of YA mothers for whom these data had not been previously collected or if they had not returned to work as of the date of the last interview.

Comparison to Other NLS Cohorts: The NLSY79 has collected detailed information about both within-job and between-job gaps. These time and tenure questions provide information on a respondent’s time spent with an employer, time spent away from an employer during which the employment contract was maintained or renewed, and periods of time when the respondent was neither working for an employer nor serving in the active forces. Prior to 1998, with the exception of the 1983 maternity leave questions, maternity leave was not explicitly collected. Since 1988, female respondents (only) are asked for information on the total number of separate periods of paid leave from an employer which were taken due to either pregnancy or birth of a child. Start and stop dates are collected for each period of leave.

NLSY97 respondents provide the start and stop dates of each employee and freelance job, as well as military service. The survey also collects information about periods of a week or more when the respondent was not working at a given job. Tenure at current or last job is available for the Older Men for 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1971, and for the Younger Men for 1967, 1969, and 1971. For the Mature and Young Women, users may be able to create tenure variables for the later survey years by combining start and stop dates and data on within-job gaps. For more precise details about the content of each survey, consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide using the tabs above for more information.

Survey Instruments Employment-related questions are found in the Young Adult Instrument, Section 7, Jobs & Employers Supplements.  For 1994 through 1998, see Section 8, Gaps When Not Working or in the Military.
Area of Interest YA Between Jobs