Hours Spent at Work

Hours Spent at Work

Created Variables

CV_HRS_PER_WEEK.01, 02, etc. Number of hours worked per week at Job 1, Job 2, etc. as of either the job's stop data or the interview date for ongoing jobs. If the job lasted 13 weeks or less, this variable is calculated as of the job's start date. Available for each survey year. (Also, in the Event History array, EMP_HOURS calculates the total number of hours worked by a respondent at any job during a given week. See Employers & Jobs for more information for event history variables.)

CVC_HOURS_WK_YR_ET.xx; CVC_HOURS_WK_YR_SE.xx; CVC_HOURS_WK_YR_ALL.xx. Total number of hours worked, calendar year. The ET stem refers to employee-type job, SE refers to self-employed job, and ALL refers to all jobs.

CVC_HOURS_WK_TEEN. Cumulative hours worked from age 14 through age 19.

CVC_HOURS_WK_ADULT_ET. Cumulative hours worked at an employee-type job from age 20 as of the interview date.

CVC_HOURS_WK_ADULT_ALL. Cumulative hours worked at all jobs from age 20 as of the interview date.


Important Information About Using Hours Spent At Work Data

  1. In rounds 1 and 2, and part of round 3, some respondents reported working overtime hours and then listed zero for the number of overtime hours worked. These cases were skipped out of the questions that collected regular hours worked per week excluding overtime. Therefore, no data were collected on the typical number of hours these respondents worked. This problem was corrected during the round 3 field period.
  2. Information on the usual number of hours worked is also missing in the following cases for rounds 1 and 2: (1) if the respondent refused to give an amount in the non-hourly wage questions or (2) if the respondent answered "don't know" to both the amount question and the estimated amount follow-up question in the non-hourly wage section.
  3. Respondents age 14 and over with employee jobs and all respondents with freelance jobs provide information about the number of hours worked each week. Those age 16 and over also report the shift usually worked at employee jobs. The number of weeks a respondent has worked for a particular employer and the job's start and stop dates are discussed in the Tenure section.
  4. If a respondent reported an employer in a later round that he or she also reported in a previous round (in other words, the job was continued across rounds), that employer will retain the original ID code to permit linking across rounds (see the discussion about the creation of the employer roster in Employment: An Introduction). In addition, the start date information contained in the second round's employer roster reflects the original (previous round's) start date. 
  5. Due to branching errors in the questionnaire, we are missing work schedule data for 683 respondents in round 16 and 747 respondents in round 17. In both of these rounds, we are missing the work schedule data for newly reported jobs in which overtime pay was reported, and we are also missing the work schedule data for on-going jobs with non-hourly rates of pay for which overtime pay was reported.

Employee Jobs

Respondents age 14 or older report the number of hours per week that they usually worked at the time that a job began. For employee jobs lasting at least 13 weeks (starting in 2013, this criteria changed to "jobs lasting at least 26 weeks"), the survey asks about the number of hours per week the respondent usually worked when the job ended (or at the time of the survey for on-going jobs). If the job has already been reported during a previous interview, the start date questions were asked at that time. In this case, respondents are asked only about the stop date or current interview date if the job lasted at least 13 weeks.

If an employee job ended after or on-going as of the respondent's 16th birthday, data are collected on the respondent's regular shift (e.g., the time of day the shift began and ended, the number of weekdays and/or weekend days usually worked, the number of hours usually worked per weekday and/or weekend day).

In round 15, respondents answered questions about the most hours and the fewest hours per week they worked, how far in advance they knew their work schedule, and how much input they had on their schedule. These questions also were asked about the respondent's spouse/partner.

See Work Experience for information on created variables related to hours worked by the respondent.

Freelance Jobs

This section gathers information about the usual number of hours the respondent worked per week as of the job's start date. The survey also collects data on the total number of days, the number of weekday/weekend days, and the number of hours per weekday/weekend that the respondent worked when the job began. Respondents are then asked to provide similar information as of the job's end date (or as of the survey date if the job is on-going).


In rounds 1-3, respondents who were age 16 or older and reported earning $200 or more per week at a freelance job were considered self-employed. These jobs were included in the freelance section. Beginning in round 4, the structure of the questionnaire changed and respondents were divided by age. Those born in 1980-82 (or in 1980-83 for round 5) reported self-employment along with regular employee jobs and were skipped past the freelance section (see the Employee Jobs section above for details about time spent at work). Younger respondents born in 1983-84 (or in 1984 only for round 5) continued to list self-employment in the freelance section (see Freelance Jobs above). Beginning in round 6, all respondents are treated like the older respondents in rounds 4 and 5.

Work Schedules

In each round, NLSY97 respondents indicate (for non-military jobs) the type of schedule that best describes their work hours for each employer: regular day shift, regular night shift, rotating shift, irregular schedule, etc.

Beginning in Round 15, additional questions were added to capture other dimensions of work schedules that may hold important implications for the well-being of individuals and families: hour variability, schedule unpredictability, and schedule input/control.

Hour variability: To measure the variation in work hours that has become increasingly routine, respondents are asked the following questions about their jobs:

  • "In the last month, what is the greatest number of hours you've worked in a week at this job? Please consider all hours, including any extra hours, overtime, work you did at home, and so forth."
  • "In the last month, what is the fewest number of hours you've worked in a week at this job? Please do not include weeks in which you missed work because of illness or vacation."

Note: Questions were drawn from the Workplace and Employee Survey (WES) conducted in Canada between 1999 and 2005 by Statistics Canada.

Schedule unpredictability: Unpredictability in work schedules addresses whether work hours and timing can be anticipated by employees. NLSY97 respondents  are asked the following question regarding advance schedule notice for their jobs (and for their spouses'/partners' employment):

  • "How far in advance do you usually know what days and hours you will need to work?"

Note: Question was derived from the Workplace and Employee Survey (WES).

Schedule input/control: The control employees have over the number and timing can be positively related to worker well-being, family routines and health. The following question is asked of NLSY97 respondents (and about their spouses/partners):

  • "Which of the following statements best describes how your working hours are decided? By working hours we mean the time you start and finish work, and not the total hours you work per week or month:
    1. Starting and finishing times are decided by my employer and I cannot change them on my own;
    2. Starting and finishing times are decided by my employer but with my input;
    3. I can decide the time I start and finish work, within certain limits;
    4. I am entirely free to decide when I start and finish work;
    5. When I start and finish work depends on things outside of my control and outside of my employer's control."

Note: Question was based on the Chicago Work Scheduling Study (WSS) and cognitive testing by BLS.

Comparison to Other NLS Surveys: Most interviews of the NLSY79 include information on usual hours worked per week and usual shift worked. The exact time the shift began and ended is available beginning in 1986. The number of hours worked and the usual shift worked have also been collected from Children of the NLSY79 age 15 and older since 1994. The Mature and Young Women regularly reported the number of hours usually worked per day and per week; they reported exact times shifts begin and end starting in 1995. Older and Young Men reported the usual number of hours per week only. For more information, consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide.

Survey Instruments: These questions are found in the employment section of the Youth Questionnaire. Question names begin with YEMP- and roster items begin with YEMP_.



Related User's Guide Sections Gaps in Employment
Main Area of Interest Created Variables
Time Spent at Work
Supplemental Areas of Interest Expectations
Tenure w/ Employer
Wages & Compensation