Work Experience

Work Experience

Each survey collects information about:

  • current and prior employment (since the date of last interview), including characteristics of the current or most recent employer and of any other employers for whom the respondent worked
  • military service

From the data collected in the Young Adult survey about employee jobs, freelance jobs, and military service, researchers can construct a longitudinal record for the respondents' employment history from the year they were first surveyed to their most recent interview date, except for those first interviewed in 1994, 1996, or 1998: from 1994 through 1998, the reference date for collecting job information was set to January 1 of the year preceding the fielding year. 

Since 2000, this longitudinal record has been maintained even for respondents who are not interviewed every survey round. Each year's questionnaire incorporates retrospective questions designed to recover information lost during previous survey years as completely as possible. For example, a respondent interviewed in 2000 and not interviewed again until 2006 will have a complete labor force history up through the 2006 interview, as employment information since 2000 will be recovered in 2006. Researchers should be alert to the possibility of gaps and discrepancies in some records over time due to inconsistencies in respondent reporting or interviewer error. 

Longitudinal Work Experience

This section discusses information on various aspects of the longitudinal work experience record available for each Young Adult respondent.

Number of Employers: The most basic longitudinal information available for respondents is the total number of employers for whom a respondent worked during a given period and the total number of employers (part-time and full-time) ever reported by a respondent. It is possible to construct a fairly complete inventory of the number of jobs for all respondents from the age of 15 years and older (except for the earliest years of the survey, as discussed above).

"Employers" versus "Jobs": Unless explicitly noted, the Young Adult work data are employer-based. Therefore, any reference to "job" is a reference to a specific employer. Information about specific duties and positions or changes in duties or position is collected, with reference to a specific employer, only at the point of interview. We therefore caution researchers that counting changes in occupations cannot necessarily be equated with total job changes or employer changes. For example, it is possible for a respondent to hold more than one occupation with the same employer during the time between interviews, yet the only occupation specifically reported at the point of interview would be the current/most recent occupation. Likewise, a respondent may hold the same occupation through his or her tenure with several employers.

Part-time and Short Term Employment Information: Industry, occupation, and class of worker information is not collected for every part-time or short term employer who is not the primary employer. For jobs lasting less than 10 weeks or jobs where the respondent worked less than ten hours a week, respondents are only asked for employer name, start and stop dates, and hours worked.

Double-Counting of Employers: Users should be aware that a small degree of double-counting of employers may occur when data are collected. Up though 2008, employment information collected from the last interview was not carried forward to the next round. Beginning in 2010, the names and occupational descriptions for current employers at the most recent interview (limited initially to those from 2008 in 2010) have been carried forward, and YAs are asked a series of follow-up questions on these jobs.

Employer Characteristic Histories: It is possible to build a limited history of certain employer-based characteristics (earnings/hourly wages, occupation, and so forth). These histories will be limited in the sense that many of these characteristics are reported only at the date of each interview. When change occurs between interviews, in most instances the point of actual change cannot be precisely determined. 

Strictly speaking, it is possible that an occupational change from one interview year to the next could reflect only one of several during the period between interviews. Characteristics such as hourly wage may be of less concern in this regard, as some numeric progression or regression should be apparent. Even for these indicators, however, interim and temporary cutbacks in compensation in times of economic downturn may be missed. 

Comparison to Other NLS Cohorts: Total number of weeks worked and total weeks of tenure variables have been constructed for the NLSY79, the NLSY97, and the older cohorts. 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. Some are also found in Section 9, Last Job Lasting Two Weeks or More, and Section 10, First Significant Job after Leaving School.
Areas of Interest Employment-related variables are found in YA Job Information, YA Jobs, YA First Job After High School, YA Last Job, YA Last Significant Job. Note: For the 1994 through 1998 surveys, data from Section 7 are found in YA Jobs, while data from the Employer Supplements are found in the YA Job Information.  From 2000 on, all data from the integrated looped section are found in YA Job Information, allowing users to follow the question flow from the CAPI questionnaire.