Job Search

Job Search


Young Women Job Search Variables

Each of the Young Women surveys includes at least basic job search questions, while several years have had extensive series concerning various job search aspects. These include questions about a respondent's job search activities based on the Current Population Survey, searches conducted while the respondent was otherwise employed, how geographic mobility affects job search, and what a respondent would do in hypothetical job offer situations.

CPS Job Search Questions

Questions based on the Current Population Survey (CPS) were asked in every survey to determine respondents' labor force status (see the Labor Force Status section for more information). These asked about the respondent's main activity during the week before the interview (i.e., working, looking for work, going to school), whether she was looking for work during the past four weeks, and the reason she could not take a job last week (i.e., temporary illness, child care problems). The surveys also asked for the reason the respondent was out of the labor force or was not looking for work during the last four weeks (i.e., could not find any, lacks experience, family responsibilities).

In all personal interviews in the early years, Young Women respondents looking for work were questioned concerning the details of their job search. This series asked which methods they used during the previous four weeks to look for work, why they started looking (e.g., lost or quit job), the starting date or duration of their search, and whether they were looking for full- or part-time work.

Most interviews asked the respondent various questions concerning her labor force status during a specific time period (past calendar year, since date of last interview). In some years, the questionnaire requested the number of non-working weeks that she spent looking for work or on layoff. If "missing" weeks exist when the respondent was not working and not looking for work, she is asked for the reason no job search was conducted during those weeks (i.e., illness, birth of child, in school).

In all personal interviews, respondents who reported looking for work were presented with a series of questions about the kind of work and amount of pay they wanted. Any restrictions that would be a factor in taking a job, such as hours or location, were also listed. Some of these surveys included an additional question in this series that asked for the hours per week that the respondent wanted to work.

Most personal surveys include some series that were presented only to respondents categorized as being a particular labor force status (i.e., working, unemployed, looking). Respondents who reported neither working nor looking for work were questioned about whether they had any intentions of starting a job search during the next 12 months. If they answered "definitely" or "probably," follow-up questions asked when they planned to start looking, the kind of work they would look for and the search methods they planned to use. All respondents not working and not looking for work at the interview date were asked for the reason they did not start a job search, or why they had not begun looking now instead of waiting to start a search. Similarly, working respondents who were classified as "other" (not working and not looking for work) at the date of last interview were asked for the reason they decided to take a job since the last interview. The 1995-2003 surveys also asked if a respondent intended to begin looking for work during the next 12 months.

Some job search questions were only included in a few Young Women surveys. The first two interviews included a set of questions about any weeks spent looking for work or on layoff during the past calendar year (in 1968) or the last 12 months (in 1969). The follow-up questions inquired as to whether these weeks were all in one stretch and whether they were during summer vacation or the school year. Also, in 1983, the survey asked respondents which methods they used to look for work and how they found out about their current job.

Related Variables: In most surveys, the respondent was asked about the number of her husband's (or partner's beginning in 1987) non-working weeks during the past 12 months and whether he spent any of them looking for work. The CPS questions addressed to respondents in 1995-2003 were repeated later in the interview to determine the labor force status of the respondent's husband or partner. A limited number of questions were asked about the husband's/partner's CPS status in 1993. In surveys from 1985-91, married respondents were asked whether they or any other family members had started working or looking for work because the respondent's husband was not working.

User Notes

The CPS redesign and the implementation of the CAPI/CATI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interview and Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview) have influenced both the choice of questions and their wording (see the Labor Force Status section for details on these developments). Users are cautioned to review the questionnaire rather than assuming that similarly titled variables used the same question wording, were addressed to the same universe, or referred to the same time period. Users should also be aware that similar questions do not always have the same title due to the transition from PAPI (Paper-And-Pencil Interviews) to CAPI surveys.

Job Search while Employed

The 1973 Young Women interview included an extensive series of questions concerning any job search activities respondents conducted while otherwise employed. Respondents were eligible to answer these questions if not in school but with the same employer or self-employed in 1971-73. Those respondents who had looked for another job while employed were asked for the frequency of such a search, when this occurred, why they looked at that time, their search methods, the kind of work desired, and whether they looked in the same geographic area. If the respondent was unable to find another job, she was asked for a reason why her search was unsuccessful. Any respondent who found a job she could have had was then asked for various details about the position, including whether she accepted the job offer or not. If she declined it, the respondent was asked for a reason why. If an employer offered a respondent a job (since February 1971) that she did not take and she stopped searching or had no other success in her search, the survey requested various characteristics about the job. An additional question asked if the job was offered by a friend or relative, business acquaintance, former employer, or some other person.

Also in 1973, any employed respondent who did not receive an offer from an employer (and did not search for other work) was asked if she ever thought of looking for another job during this period. If the respondent answered no, the follow-up question asked why not; if she said yes, the next questions asked why she thought of looking and why she never actually searched for other work.

In the 1985 and 1987 telephone interviews, a question about the respondent's level of job satisfaction led into a job search question. It simply asked whether these employed respondents had been looking for other work during the four weeks before the interview.

Geographic Mobility

In 1969, 1978, and 1983, the survey asked respondents who had moved since the date of last interview if they had a job lined up at the time they moved. If not, a follow-up question in 1969 and 1978 asked for the number of weeks they looked before finding a job (other possible answers included "did not look for work" and "still have not found work"). Also in 1978, parallel questions asked about job search activities conducted before and after a respondent's move. The universe for this series depended on the respondent's job status prior to the move.

The 1983 questionnaire asked respondents who had moved since 1973 if they were looking for work or on layoff from a job right before or after the move to their current residence. If these respondents worked for a different employer in the 12 months after the move, another question asked whether they had a new job arranged beforehand.

The 1983 interview also included two questions that asked respondents about how a move affected their husband's labor force status or job search. The Young Women respondents were asked if their husbands had a job lined up at the time of their move and whether he was searching for work right before or right after the move.

Most surveys that have asked respondents about their reasons for moving include "better employment opportunities" as one of the options.

Hypothetical Jobs

Several surveys have included questions about hypothetical job offers and reservation wages.  The initial survey in 1968 included some hypothetical situation questions about a respondent's current job. The first question asked what she would do if she were to lose that job tomorrow. If the answer was "look for work," the respondent then reported what kind of work she would look for, the job search methods she would use, any specific companies where she would apply, and a reason for mentioning those employers. Respondents who chose any other answer (i.e., stay at home, return to school) were then asked about their future plans after their current job ends. If they said "taking another job" or "looking for work," they were asked for the kind of work they wanted and whether it would be full- or part-time.

In 1978 and 1983, a hypothetical wages question asked respondents looking for work if they would accept a job offered at the same rate of pay as their last position. The possible answers for this question included "yes, definitely," "depends on the type of work," "no, not enough money," and "had no prior job."

Beginning in 1968 and continuing through the 1988 survey, respondents were asked about their reactions to hypothetical job offers. Most frequently, these questions were set in the context of a job offer in the same geographical area in which the respondent currently lived, but occasionally the questions referred to a different geographical area. The hypothetical job offer series was often broken down by current labor force status of the respondent (e.g., employed, unemployed, or out of the labor force); component questions ask about the rate of pay required to accept the job offer, hours per week the respondent would be willing to work on the job, and the occupation required to accept the position. Researchers should consult the questionnaires for survey years in which these types of questions were asked and note any minor variations in text wording or universes. These questions can be found on the data file by searching under the word "Hypothetical."

Survey Instruments: Job search questions can be found in multiple sections throughout the Young Women questionnaires. CPS job search questions are part of the various "Current Labor Force Status," "Work Experience," "Work History," and "Work Attitudes" questionnaire sections. The "Retrospective Work History" and "Employment" questionnaire sections include the job-search-while-employed questions. Job search questions related to geographic mobility are found in "Family Background," "Marital History, Fertility, and Other Family Background," and "Geographic Mobility" questionnaire sections. All the hypothetical job and wage series are in the sections "Work Attitudes and Job Plans" and "Work Experience."