Data Cart

Your data extract

0 variables
0 samples
View Cart
LABFORCE
Labor force status

Description

LABFORCE is a dichotomous variable indicating whether a person participated in the labor force. See EMPSTAT for a non-dichotomous variable that indicates whether the respondent was part of the labor force -- working or seeking work -- and, if so, whether the person was currently unemployed.

Codes and Frequencies



Can't find the category you are looking for? Try the Detailed codes

Comparability

The definition of labor force participation is considerably different for the 1850-1930 censuses than for the 1940-2000 censuses, the ACS and the PRCS. From 1850 to 1930, participation is defined as reporting any gainful occupation, as recorded inOCC/OCC1950 (except for institutional inmates, as explained below). Due to universe differences during the time period from 1850 through 1930, the number of those reporting gainful occupations through OCC/OCC1950 and those reporting participation in the labor force as documented in LABFORCE do not correspond.

For the 1940-2000 censuses, the ACS and the PRCS, participation follows the modern labor force definition, as explicated in EMPSTAT: within a specific reference week, having a job from which one is temporarily absent (e.g., on vacation), working, or seeking work.

Institutional inmates, defined by IPUMS using a combination of the variables RELATE and GQ, are coded as being "not in the labor force" for all years, although such persons could report an occupation (in OCC/OCC1950) from 1850 to 1930.

The gainful employment (1850-1930) and labor force (1940-2000, the ACS and the PRCS) definitions are likely to produce different results for seasonal and part-time workers. Also, new workers who were looking for their first job are likely to be reported as out of the labor force before 1940, but they are classified as in the labor force for the 1940-2000 censuses, the ACS and the PRCS.

Some scholars argue that the change from a gainful employment to a labor force definition creates a disjuncture in the measurement of married female labor. Historically, occupational status was inherently somewhat ambiguous for married women, who might have considered their principal occupation "housewife," despite other labor they performed. The labor force concept instituted in 1940 removed some of this ambiguity by treating even a single hour of paid employment as labor force participation. For years prior to 1940, users should carefully examine the enumerator instructions for each year with respect to women and children, since the criteria for gainful employment changed between censuses. Even later censuses applied special rules for the treatment of unpaid family labor. Beginning in 1950, persons who worked only as unpaid workers in a family business or farm counted as employed if they worked 15 hours or more during the previous week, while a single hour of paid work counted as employment.

For the 1960-2000 censuses, the ACS and the PRCS, persons not in the labor force still receive an occupation code (in OCC and OCC1950) if they worked within the last ten years (for the 1960-1970 censuses) or the last five years (for the 1980-2000 censuses, the ACS and the PRCS). Thus, LABFORCE and OCC/OCC1950 do not define precisely the same population in recent years. LABFORCE is more restrictive, encompassing only those who had a job or looked for work during the previous week. See OCC and OCC1950 for specific universe information.

Starting with the 2008 ACS, the Census Bureau implemented changes to the survey questionnaire to bring ACS estimates of labor force statistics closer to estimates from other data sources. Researchers should use caution when comparing employment questions across the 2007-2008 period.

Comparison between LABFORCE and EMPSTAT over time: LABFORCE and EMPSTAT share a common universe in the censuses of 1940-2000 and in the ACS. As a result, the "not in labor force" categories in EMPSTAT and LABFORCE (code "3" in EMPSTAT, general codes, and code "1" in LABFORCE) are the same. LABFORCE places those respondents who are gainfully employed and those who are unemployed, but part of the labor force (i.e. looking for work), into one category (code "2"), while EMPSTAT divides them into employed (code "1") and unemployed (code "2"). The sum of EMPSTAT categories "1" and "2" will be the same as LABFORCE code "2."

In the 1910 and 1930 samples, EMPSTAT and LABFORCE have different universes, and therefore will have differing case counts for the related categories as a result. Users should take note of these universe discrepancies when using LABFORCE and EMPSTAT in 1910 and/or 1930. Note that for the 1910 Puerto Rican sample, LABFORCE is available, but EMPSTAT is not.

Universe

  • 1850: Males age 16+.
  • 1860-1930: Persons age 16+.
  • 1940-1960: Persons age 14+.
  • 1970: Persons age 14+; not available for Puerto Rico.
  • 1980: Persons age 16+.
  • 1990: Persons age 16+; not available for Puerto Rico.
  • 2000: Persons age 16+.
  • ACS, PRCS: Persons age 16+.

Availability

United States
  • 2017: All samples
  • 2016: All samples
  • 2015: All samples
  • 2014: All samples
  • 2013: All samples
  • 2012: All samples
  • 2011: All samples
  • 2010: ACS; ACS 3yr; ACS 5yr
  • 2009: All samples
  • 2008: All samples
  • 2007: All samples
  • 2006: All samples
  • 2005: All samples
  • 2004: All samples
  • 2003: All samples
  • 2002: All samples
  • 2001: All samples
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: All samples
  • 1980: All samples
  • 1970: All samples
  • 1960: All samples
  • 1950: All samples
  • 1940: All samples
  • 1930: All samples
  • 1920: All samples
  • 1910: All samples
  • 1900: 5%; 1%; 1.2% ovrsmp
  • 1880: All samples
  • 1870: All samples
  • 1860: All samples
  • 1850: All samples
Puerto Rico
  • 2017: All samples
  • 2016: All samples
  • 2015: All samples
  • 2014: All samples
  • 2013: All samples
  • 2012: All samples
  • 2011: All samples
  • 2010: PRCS; PRCS 3yr; PRCS 5yr
  • 2009: All samples
  • 2008: All samples
  • 2007: All samples
  • 2006: All samples
  • 2005: All samples
  • 2000: All samples
  • 1990: --
  • 1980: All samples
  • 1970: --
  • 1930: --
  • 1920: All samples
  • 1910: All samples

Flags

QEMPSTAT  QOCC 

Editing Procedure

There is no editing procedure available for this variable.