The estimates in this release were obtained using data from the first
14 rounds of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97). The
NLSY97 collects extensive information on labor market behavior and
educational experiences. Information about respondents' families and
communities also is obtained in the survey.
This survey is conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at
the University of Chicago and the Center for Human Resource Research at
The Ohio State University, under the direction and sponsorship of the
Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Partial
funding support for the survey has been provided by the Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of
Justice, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education of the U.S.
Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, and the National Science Foundation.
The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 is a nationally
representative sample of 8,984 young men and women who were ages 12 to
16 on December 31, 1996. This sample is composed of the following
-- A cross-sectional sample designed to represent the
noninstitutionalized, civilian segment of young people living in the
U.S. in 1997 and born between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1984.
-- Supplemental samples of Hispanic or Latino and black youths living in
the U.S. in 1997 and born between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1984.
The fourteenth round of annual interviews took place between October 2010 and
May 2011. This release examines the period from respondents' 18th birthday
until the month before respondents were age 26. All results except the first
two age categories of table 1 are weighted using the survey weights from the
round in which the respondents were age 25. The estimates of school enrollment
status at ages 23 and 24 use the survey weights from the round in which the
respondents were those ages. The survey weights correct for oversampling of
some demographic groups and nonresponse. When weighted, the data represent all
people who were born in the years 1980 to 1984 and living in the U.S. in 1997.
Not represented by the survey are U.S. immigrants who were born from 1980 to
1984 and moved to the U.S. after 1997. NLSY97 sample members remain eligible
to be interviewed during military service or if they become incarcerated or
Work history data
The total number of jobs that people hold during their work life is an easy
concept to understand but a difficult one to measure. Reliable estimates require
a survey that interviews the same people over the course of their entire work
life and also keeps track of all the jobs they ever held. The NLSY97 tracks the
number of jobs that people have held, but the respondents in this survey are
still young, and have many years of schooling and work life ahead of them. As
the cohort continues to age, however, more complete information will become
A unique feature of the NLSY97 is that it collects the beginning and ending
dates of all jobs held by a respondent so that a longitudinal history can be
constructed of each respondent's work experiences. The NLSY97 work history data
provide a week-by-week work record of each respondent from January 1, 1994,
through the most recent survey date. These data contain information on the
respondents labor force status each week, the usual hours worked per week at
all jobs, and earnings for all jobs. If a respondent worked at more than one
job in any week, hours and earnings are obtained for additional jobs. When a
respondent who missed one or more consecutive survey rounds is interviewed
again, he or she is asked to provide information about all time since the last
Interaction between time and age in a longitudinal survey
Because the NLSY97 is a longitudinal survey, meaning the same people are
surveyed over time, the ages of the respondents change with each survey round.
It is important to keep in mind this inherent link between the calendar years
and the ages of the respondents. The youngest respondents in the sample (birth
year 1984) turned 25 during calendar year 2009, whereas the oldest respondents
(birth year 1980) turned 25 during calendar year 2005. Some respondents may not
be used in all tables if information about their work history is incomplete.
School enrollment status. If a respondent was enrolled in college at any point
during the month of October, he or she is counted as enrolled. If a respondent
had not earned a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED)
credential, he or she is counted as a high school dropout.
Training. The NLSY97 obtains information on formal training experiences
outside of regular schooling. The training questions explore what kinds of
training respondents obtain, where and when they are trained, how the training
is paid for, and what skills are acquired. Training programs include: Business
or secretarial training; vocational, technical, or trade training; vocational
rehabilitation centers; licensed practical nursing or registered nursing programs;
apprenticeship programs; adult basic education and GED programs; correspondence
courses; formal company training or seminars; and government training.
Employed. The NLSY97 collects employment histories for civilian jobs and
military service. Respondents are classified as employed if they did any work
during the specified time period as paid employees, as self-employed proprietors
of their own businesses, as unpaid workers in a business owned by a member of
their family, or if they were serving in the Armed Forces.
Unemployed. Respondents are classified as unemployed if they did not work
during the specified time period but reported that they looked for work or were
on layoff from a job. No probing for intensity of job search is done.
Not in the labor force. Respondents are classified as not in the labor force
if they did not work or look for work during the specified time period.
Job. A job is defined as a period of work with a particular employer.
Jobs are therefore employer-based, not position-based. If a respondent
indicates that he or she left a job but in a subsequent survey returned to the
same job, it would not be counted as a new job. For self-employed workers,
each "new" job is defined by the individuals themselves.
Race and ethnic groups. In this release, the findings are reported for non-
Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics or Latinos. These groups are
mutually exclusive but not exhaustive. Other groups, which are included in the
overall totals, are not shown separately because their representation in the sur-
vey sample is not sufficiently large to pro-vide statistically reliable estimates.
In other BLS publications, estimates usually are published for whites, blacks,
and Hispanics or Latinos, but these groups are not mutually exclusive."Hispanic
or Latino" is considered to be an ethnic group, and people in that group can be of
any race. Most other BLS publications include estimates for Hispanics or Latinos
in the white and black race groups in addition to the Hispanic or Latino ethnic
Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired
individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: