Economic News Release

America's Young Adults at 29: Labor Market Activity, Education and Partner Status: Technical Note

Technical Note

The estimates in this release were obtained using data from the first 16 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.

Sample

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.

The sixteenth round of interviews took place between November 2013 and July 2014. This
release examines the period from respondents’ 18th birthday until their 29th birthday.
All results are weighted using the survey weights from the round in the year the
respondents turned 29. 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 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 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
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 29
during calendar year 2013, whereas the oldest respondents (birth year 1980) turned
29 during calendar year 2009. Some respondents may not be used in all tables if
information about their work history is incomplete.

Definitions

Educational attainment. Educational attainment is taken at the time of the
respondents' 29th 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.

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.

Partner Status. Partner status is determined during the month the individual turned
29. Respondents who are married but not living with their spouses are counted as
married. To be marked as cohabiting, 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 cohabiting 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 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 group.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals
upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.



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Last Modified Date: April 08, 2016
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