Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General FAQS

How long will the NLS continue?

We hope the NLS will continue for many more years. Thanks to all of you who have participated year after year, the survey has been successful beyond our dreams. Researchers and policymakers in a variety of fields regard the NLS as the gold standard for surveys. Information from the NLS becomes more valuable and useful each year it is conducted. You have been telling us about your experiences from young adulthood to midlife. As long as funding continues to be available, we intend to keep asking you about your experiences for years to come.

I’m concerned about privacy and identity theft. Will my answers be made public or will my information be given to anyone else?

We take our legal and ethical obligations to protect your confidentiality very seriously. BLS and their contractors understand the importance of keeping your information confidential. Three Federal laws govern policies and procedures for protecting respondent confidentiality and obtaining informed consent in the NLS program: the Privacy Act of 1974, the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) of 2002, and Title 13 of the United States Code. These laws require us to keep all information about you and your household strictly confidential and that the information you give us can be used only for statistical purposes. No information that could personally identify you or your family is released to researchers. If anyone violates this law, it is a federal crime; they may face severe penalties, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Learn more about the BLS and the NLS Confidentiality Pledge and Laws.

Why do you ask such personal questions?

Do you ever wonder, 'Do they really need to know that?' The answer is, 'Yes, we do!' One reason the NLS is so widely used by researchers and policymakers is the range of topics that we ask about - including topics that may be very personal. While you do not need to answer any question that you feel is too personal, answering all of the questions does help us to obtain a more complete picture of the U.S. labor force. None of your personally identifying information, such as name and address, is reported.

Why do you use the phone to conduct the survey?

We are always looking for ways to be as economical as possible while making your participation as convenient for you as we can. When you participate by phone, it saves the costs of sending an interviewer to visit you at home. Telephone interviewing also provides you some additional flexibility to participate from your home, office, or someplace else. Telephone interviewing even makes it possible for you to complete the interview in multiple segments if you choose. If you prefer doing the interview in person, just let us know and we will make every effort to send an interviewer to your home or another location.

Can I do the survey myself online?

Except for smaller supplements you cannot complete the survey online, but we continue to explore ways to permit online participation in the future for people who would prefer providing their information in that way.

I’d like to know about the studies that have been done with NLS data. Where can I get this information?

The online NLS Bibliography lists many thousands of research studies that have used data from the National Longitudinal Surveys. Researchers in economics, sociology, public health, education, psychology, and other fields have published numerous journal articles and book chapters based on information from the NLS.

How long does a typical interview last?

This year’s supplemental interview on the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic will last about 10 to 15 minutes, as with regular interviews yours may be longer or shorter depending on your circumstances. Internet interviews typically go more quickly than phone interviews where the interviewer reads the questions to you.

The regular biennial interviews average about an hour in length, but vary depending on your circumstances. We will likely need to spend about an hour and a half on the phone with you both to complete the full interview and gather additional information about how to get in touch with you for the next round interview. If it is more convenient for you, we can break up the interview into smaller parts in order to gather all of the information in two or more sessions.

Why can’t you pay me more?

While we wish we could offer a larger financial gift, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviews and approves all incentive payments. Moreover, NLS is obligated to adhere to the budget for our survey, which is set by Congress each year. We hope that providing a small monetary gift each round shows you how we appreciate your participation.

Why can’t someone else in my house complete the questionnaire for me, since they already know all about me?

Because this is a statistical sample, once a person is selected, we cannot substitute someone else's answers for your own. The success of the survey depends on your participation. You alone are the most reliable source of information about your work history, your finances, and your opinions.

Why do I have to give you what seems to be the same information every time?

Some of the questions we ask are the same every round, but just think of everything you've experienced since we last talked! It is important for us to capture what has and has not changed in your life so we can present an accurate picture of your generation. The only way we can do so is by asking you the same questions year after year. Although many of the questions remain the same, each year we review and revise the questions so they reflect the changes in your own life experiences.

Back to Top

Monetary Gifts

Where is my monetary gift for participating?

If you completed your interview by phone and chose a non-electronic payment, please note that it takes fifteen (15) business days (Monday-Friday) for it to be processed and mailed. Your payment will be arriving via FedEx (unless otherwise specified). If you have requested your gift to be sent to a P.O. Box, the arrival time will vary depending on region and it will be delivered via USPS.

It's been a while since I did my interview and I still have not received anything. What do I do?

If you have any concerns about your gift or if it has been over one (1) month since you completed the interview, please call 877-853-5908 and leave a message specifying your concerns or questions, your name, the best time to reach you, and your phone number. We will get back to you as soon as possible to resolve any issues!

Back to Top

Check/Cash

I can't cash a check. Can you make the check out to my significant other or family member?

Due to privacy concerns, we cannot make a check out to anyone other than yourself. If you have trouble cashing checks, please let your interviewer know. If you received a check and have trouble cashing it, please call our hotline and someone will get back to you to find an alternative method of payment. You will need to provide the check number when requesting a different payment method.

Back to Top

Electronic Payments

Would you like to receive your payment faster? Watch this ePayment video explaining how to receive your monetary gift through PayPal or have it electronically deposited in your bank account!

PayPal

What is PayPal?

PayPal is a service that enables you to accept payments electronically. You sign up for PayPal using an email address. Once you complete your interview, the Field Interviewer will ask you for the email address associated with your PayPal account. The funds will be transferred to your PayPal account, which can then be transferred to your bank account or used through PayPal. Delivery time for PayPal is much shorter than for   check. BLS does not endorse the use of PayPal over any other method of payment.

This ePayment video may help explain how to receive your monetary gift through PayPal.

Do electronic payments expire?

Yes. PayPal payments expire after thirty (30) days and OMB payments expire after twenty (20) days. If you do not claim a payment before the expiration date, please call 877-853-5908 and leave a message specifying your payment issue, your name, your survey, the best time to reach you, and your phone number. We will get back to you to resolve any issues.

How will I receive my PayPal payment?

Three (3) business days after you have completed your interview, you will receive an email from: service@paypal.com with the subject line: We Appreciate Your Participation! Open the email and click on the Accept Money tab. (If your PayPal account is set to automatically accept funds, this message will only be a notification that money was deposited in your PayPal account and no action is needed on your part to accept the funds.) BLS does not endorse the use of PayPal over any other method of payment.

This ePayment video may help explain how to receive your monetary gift through PayPal.

I asked for my money to be sent via PayPal, but I have not received an email yet.

An email will be sent to the email address associated with your PayPal account that was given to your interviewer at the end of the survey. Please check your email account to ensure that it has not been redirected to your junk mail. You can also check whether your money was sent by logging into your PayPal account. If you have any concerns about your gift, or if it has been over two (2) weeks since you completed the interview, please call 877-853-5908 and leave a message specifying your concerns or questions, your name, your survey, the best time to reach you, and your phone number. We will do our best to get back to you to resolve any issues.

Online/Mobile Banking and Zelle

How will I receive my Mobile Banking or Zelle payment?

Three (3) business days after you have completed your interview, you will receive an email from Chase Payments. The subject line will read “NATL. OPINION RESEARCH CENTER has sent you a payment”. Open the email and click on the Accept Money tab. You will then need to follow the instructions from your bank. BLS does not endorse the use of mobile payments over any other method of payment.

Western Union

I tried to retrieve my money from Western Union, but was told there was nothing for me.

It might be the case that your money was sent, but it can take up to four (4) business days from the date it was sent to be available. Ensure that you are going to an authorized Western Union agent by looking up locations near you on the Western Union website. You can also check the status of your money by contacting Western Union.  Please have your MTCN tracking number ready.

I was told I had to pay a fee at Western Union. What do I do?

You should never have to pay a fee to pick up money. Ensure that you are going to an authorized Western Union agent by looking up locations near you on the Western Union website.

Back to Top

Last Modified Date: June 22, 2021