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Data Dictionary: Census 1980
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Survey: Census 1980
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau and Social Explorer
Table: T36. Employment Status For Total Population 16 Years and Over [6]
Universe: Persons 16 Years And Over
Table Details
T36. Employment Status For Total Population 16 Years and Over
Universe: Persons 16 Years And Over
Variable Label
Relevant Documentation:
Excerpt from: Social Explorer; U.S. Census Bureau; Census of Population and Housing, 1980: Summary Tape File 3 [machine-readable data file] / conducted By the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Washington: Bureau of the Census [producer and distributor], 1982.
Labor Force Status
Persons 16 years old and over were classified as to their status in the labor force based on replies to several questions relating to work activity and status during the reference week. These items were asked on a sample basis.

Data on labor force status refer to the calendar week prior to the date on which respondents completed their questionnaires or were interviewed by enumerators. Since the week of enumeration was not the same for all persons, the reference week for labor force data is not entirely uniform. For many persons, however, the reference week for answering the 1980 census employment questions was the last week in March, 1980.

Labor force
Members of the Armed Forces and the civilian labor force as defined below.

Armed Forces
Persons 16 years old and over on active duty in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, (indicated in responses to the question on industry). Members of the merchant marine and civilian employees of the Department of Defense are not members of the Armed Forces. Service in a National Guard or reserve unit for short periods of active duty for training does not count as active duty in the Armed Forces.

Civilian labor force
Employed and unemployed civilians.

Civilians 16 years old and over who were either (a) "at work"--those who did any work at all as Paid employees or in their own business or profession, or on their own farm, or who worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers on a family farm or in a family business; or (b) "with a job but not at work"-those who did not work during the reference week but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent due to illness, bad weather, industrial dispute, vacation, or other personal reasons. Excluded from the employed are persons whose only activity consisted of work around the house or volunteer work for religious, charitable, and similar organizations.

Employed persons are sometimes further classified as full time or part time based on whether they worked 35 or more hours during the reference week. (See Hours Worked Last Week.)

Civilians 16 years old and over who were neither "at work" nor "with a job, but not at work" and who were:

a) Looking for work during the last 4 weeks, and b) available to accept a job.

Examples of jobseeking activities are: (1) registering at a public or private employment office, (2) meeting with prospective employers, (3) checking with friends or relatives, (4) placing or answering advertisements, (5) writing letters of application, and (6) being on a union or professional register.

Also included as unemployed are persons who did not work at all during the reference week and were waiting to be called back to a job from which they had been laid off.

The concept of experienced unemployed is discussed below under Experienced Civilian Labor Force.

Not in labor force
Persons 16 years old and over who are not classified as members of the labor force. This category consists mainly of students, housewives, retired workers, seasonal workers enumerated in an "off" season who were not looking for work, inmates of institutions, disabled persons, and persons doing only incidental unpaid family work (fewer than 15 hours during the reference week). Also included are so called "discouraged workers" who do not have a job and have not been actively looking for work during the last four weeks. Inmates of institutions are occasionally presented as a subcategory within "not in labor force." Tasks performed by inmates of institutions are not considered "work" for the purposes of the census.

In addition to the above classification, the concept of Experienced Civilian Labor Force appears in certain detailed tabulations.

Experienced Civilian Labor Force
Employed persons and those unemployed persons who have worked at any time in the past, i.e., "experienced unemployed." (See Year Last Worked.) This concept serves as the universe for certain tabulations of occupation and industry where unemployed persons are to be included. (Occupation and industry data were not collected for persons who have never worked, or who have not worked since 1974.)

Comparability with data from other sources
Because employment data from the census are obtained from respondents in households, they differ from statistics based on reports from individual business establishments, farm enterprises, and certain government programs. Persons employed at more than one job are counted only once in the census and are classified according to the job at which they worked the greatest number of hours during the reference week. In statistics based on reports from business and farm establishments, persons who work for more than one establishment may be counted more than once. Moreover, other series, unlike those presented here, may exclude private household workers, unpaid family workers, and self-employed persons, but may include workers less than 16 years of age.

Historical comparability
In 1940, 1950, and 1960, labor force data were published for persons 14 years old and over. In 1970, most labor force data were for persons 16 years old and over to comply with the official Government definition of employed and unemployed instituted in 1967, although data on 14- and 15-year olds were furnished in 1970 to provide a comparability bridge with earlier censuses.

See also: "Hours Worked Last Week;" "Industry;" "Occupation;" "Labor Force Status In 1979," "Year Last Worked".