Job Search

Job Search

Mature Women Job Search Variables

Most surveys of the Mature Women include at least basic job search questions, while several years have had extensive series concerning various job search aspects. These include questions about a respondent's job search activities based on the Current Population Survey (CPS), searches conducted while the respondent was otherwise employed, how geographic mobility affects job search, and what a respondent would do in hypothetical job offer situations.

CPS Job Search Questions

Basic CPS questions, used to determine a respondent's labor force status, were included in every survey except 1968 (see the Labor Force Status section for more information). These asked about the respondent's main activity during the week before the interview (i.e., working, looking for work, going to school, retired), whether she was looking for work during the past four weeks, and the reason she could not take a job last week (i.e., temporary illness, child care problems). The surveys also asked for the reason the respondent was out of the labor force or was not looking for work during the last four weeks (i.e., could not find any, lacks experience, family responsibilities).

In all personal interviews, Mature Women respondents looking for work were questioned concerning the details of their job search. This series asked which methods they used during the previous four weeks to look for work, why they started looking (e.g., lost or quit job), the starting date or duration of their search, and whether they were looking for full- or part-time work.

Most interviews asked the respondent various questions concerning her labor force status during a specific time period (past calendar year, last 12 months). In some years, the questionnaire requested the number of non-working weeks that she spent looking for work or on layoff. If "missing" weeks existed when the respondent was not working and not looking for work, she was asked for the reason no job search was conducted during those weeks (i.e., illness, birth of child, in school).

Characteristics of the job a respondent was searching for can be found in the personal surveys between 1967 and 1982; in personal interviews from 1971-82, similar questions were asked of respondents who expected to look for work in the next year. The various details collected in these question sets include the kind of work, search methods used, the number of hours per week and amount of pay desired, and any restrictions (hours or location) that would be a factor in accepting a position.

Respondents who were not working and not looking for work in 1967 or 1969-72 were asked if they would accept a job if offered one. If they answered yes, a follow-up question asked why they were not looking for such a job now. Similarly, the 1977 and 1982 surveys asked respondents in the same group for a reason why they were not looking for work at this time. The 1995-2003 surveys simply asked if a respondent intended to begin looking for work during the next 12 months.

The surveys also include the reasons behind starting or stopping a job search. These can be instrumental in understanding why a respondent's labor force status has changed from one survey to another. For those who were looking for work at the time of the last interview, questions from the 1969 survey asked how they found their current job (if now working) or why they stopped looking for work (if currently not employed and not looking). During that same survey, respondents who were not employed and not looking last year, but were now searching for work, reported what prompted their decision. In 1969, 1972, and 1977, respondents who were not working and not looking but switched to working sometime during the year between interviews were asked why they decided to take their current job and how they found it.

Related Variables: In most surveys, the respondent was asked about the number of her husband's (or partner's, beginning in 1987) non-working weeks during the past 12 months and whether any of those weeks were spent looking for work.  The CPS questions addressed to respondents in 1995-2003 were repeated later in the interview to determine the labor force status of the respondent's husband or partner. In several years, married respondents were asked whether they or any other family members had started working or looking for work because the respondent's husband was not working.

User Notes

The CPS redesign and the implementation of the CAPI/CATI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interview and Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview) have influenced both the choice of questions and their wording (see the Labor Force Status section for details on these developments). Users are cautioned to review the questionnaire rather than assuming that similarly titled variables used the same question wording, were addressed to the same universe, or referred to the same time period. Users should also be aware that similar questions do not always have the same title due to the transition from PAPI (Paper-And-Pencil Interviews) to CAPI surveys.

Job Search while Employed

The 1972 Mature Women interview included an extensive series of questions concerning any job search activities respondents conducted while otherwise employed. These started by asking how often the respondent conducted this type of job search, the year when this search occurred, and what prompted the decision to look for other work at that time. The other details gathered include the search methods used, the kind of work she looked for, and whether the search was conducted in the same area where the respondent lived. If she found a job she could have had, a group of questions asked for specific characteristics of that position (i.e., kind of industry, location, salary).

Respondents who did not look for another job while employed are surveyed on whether they ever received a definite full-time job offer that they did not accept. If so, detailed questions concerning the offer then follow; if not, these respondents were asked whether they ever thought of looking for other work during this time. If the respondent considered it but never conducted a search, or never considered looking at all, she is asked about the reasons for her decision.

Geographic Mobility

Personal surveys from 1969-82 asked respondents who had moved since a specific time (date of last interview or during the past calendar year) whether they had a job lined up at the time of their move or were looking before or afterwards. In 1971, 1972, and 1977, relocated respondents who had no job arrangements beforehand answered questions about the number of weeks spent looking until they found a job before or after the move. A 1982 question asked respondents who had moved since the 1972 interview whether they were looking for work right before or after the move. This same survey included questions for the respondent concerning whether her husband had a job lined up at the time of their move or was looking for work before or after the move.

Most surveys which have asked respondents about their reasons for moving include "better employment opportunities" as one of the options.

Hypothetical Jobs

Several surveys have included questions about hypothetical job offers and reservation wages. The 1967 and 1969 questionnaires asked working respondents what they would do if they lost their current job tomorrow. One answer, "look for work," led to other questions that asked about the kind of work the respondent would look for, any specific companies where she would apply, and a reason for mentioning those employers. The 1967 survey also inquired as to the respondent's future plans after she stops her current job. If her response was "look for work," she was asked about the kind of work she would look for and whether it would be a part- or full-time position.

Respondents who were not working and not looking for work during the 1967 and 1969 interviews were asked about the possibility of accepting a job if one was offered to them. Those who answered that they would take it or that it depends were then asked if they expect to look for work within the next year. Similarly, in 1977 and 1982 respondents were asked if they would accept a job offer in the same area where they lived, at the same rate of pay that they currently received. Possible answers varied from a definite yes or no to several reasons in between: it depends on the type of work, it depends on whether she is satisfied with the company, no--the pay is not enough, etc.

Beginning in 1967 and continuing through the 1986 survey, respondents were queried about their reactions to hypothetical job offers. Most frequently, these questions were set in the context of a job offer in the same geographical area in which the respondent currently lived, but occasionally the questions referred to a different geographical area. The hypothetical job offer series was often broken down by current labor force status of the respondent (e.g., unemployed or out of the labor force); component questions usually asked about the rate of pay required to accept the job offer, hours per week the respondent would be willing to work on the job, and the occupation required to accept the position. Researchers should consult the questionnaires for survey years in which these types of questions were asked and note any minor variations in text wording or universes. These questions can be found on the data file by searching under the word "Hypothetical."

Survey Instruments: Job search questions can be found in multiple sections throughout the Mature Women questionnaires. CPS job search questions are part of the various "Current Labor Force Status," "Work Experience," and "Work History" questionnaire sections. The "Retrospective Work History" questionnaire section includes the job-search-while-employed questions. Job search questions related to geographic mobility are found in "Family Background," "Attitudes Toward Work," and "Geographic Mobility" questionnaire sections. All the hypothetical job series are in the sections "Attitudes Toward Work," "Work Experience," and "Current Labor Force Status and Work History."