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Economic News Release
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Labor Market Experience, Education, Partner Status, and Health for those Born 1980-1984 Technical Note

Technical Note

The estimates in this release were obtained using data from the first 19 rounds of the National Longitudinal
Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97). This survey is conducted by the Center for Human Resource Research at The
Ohio State University and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago under the 
direction and sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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 groups:

  --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.

This sample size is not adjusted for sample members who have died.

Individuals were surveyed annually from 1997–2011 and biennially since 2011. In the 2019-20 survey round,
high response rates were maintained despite the potential adverse impacts that may have affected the behavior
of respondents in the last several months of collection after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 6,947 
individuals responded to the survey, for a retention rate of 77 percent (representing a 79 percent response
rate among those sample members who are still living). Only these individuals are included in the estimates
in this release. This release examines the period from respondents' 18th birthday until their 35th birthday.
All results are weighted using the 2019-20 survey weights that correct for the oversampling, interview
nonresponse, and permanent attrition from the survey. Prior NLSY97 news releases used weights based on the
survey round a respondent turned a particular age. 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 institutionalized.

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 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 have many years of work life ahead of them.
As the cohort continues to age, however, more complete information will become available.

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 respondent's 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 interview.

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 35 during calendar year 2019, whereas the oldest respondents (birth year 1980) turned 35 during 
calendar year 2015. Some respondents may not be used in all tables if information about their work history 
is incomplete.

As with age, the education attainment of individuals may change from year to year. Educational attainment
is taken at the time of the respondents' 35th birthday. 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. 
Individuals with an associate degree or any enrollment in college after high school are counted as having 
some college.


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.

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.

Partner Status. Partner status is determined during the month the individual turned 35. Respondents who are
married but not living with their spouses are counted as married. To be marked as cohabitating, the respondent
must be living with an individual of either gender for at least one month in a sexual relationship. Living
with roommates or parents would not affect partner status. Respondents who are not married and not cohabitating
are counted as single.

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 survey
sample is not sufficiently large to provide statistically reliable estimates. In other BLS publications,
estimates usually are published for White individuals, Black individuals, and Hispanic or Latino individuals,
but these groups are not mutually exclusive. The term Hispanic or Latino is considered to be an ethnicity
group, and Hispanic or Latino individuals can be of any race. Most other BLS publications include estimates
for Hispanic or Latino individuals in the White and Black race groups in addition to the Hispanic or Latino
ethnicity group.

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Last Modified Date: March 29, 2022