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Economic News Release
NLS NLS Program Links

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

Technical Note

The estimates in this news release were obtained using data from the first 20 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,

 --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 2021-2022
survey round, 6713 individuals responded to the survey, for a retention rate of 75 percent
(representing a 77 percent response rate among those sample members who are still living).
Only these individuals are included in the estimates in this news release. This news release examines 
the period from respondents' 18th birthday until their 37th birthday. All results are weighted
using the 2021-2022 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 37 during calendar year 2021, whereas the 
oldest respondents (birth year 1980) turned 37 during calendar year 2017. 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' 37th 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.

Training compared with regular school. Regular school is one that offers an academic diploma or
degree, e.g., high school, college, graduate school, law school, or nursing program leading to
an RN degree. Not included as regular school are training at a technical institute, license
trade programs, etc. unless the credits obtained are transferable to a regular school and could
count toward an academic diploma or degree.

Partner Status. Partner status is determined during the month the individual turned 37.
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 news 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: April 02, 2024