Employment: An Introduction

Employment questionnaire sections: Structure and variation across survey rounds

The employment sections of the questionnaire are somewhat complex. Before beginning analysis, researchers must understand the structure of each round's questionnaire, particularly the way in which jobs are classified as employee, freelance, or self-employment. It is important to note that this classification depends in part on the survey round and the respondent's age. 

In rounds 1 and 2, employee jobs were recorded in the first part of the YEMP section, administered only to respondents age 14 or older as of the interview date. The second part of the YEMP section collected information about freelance jobs of respondents age 14 and older and all jobs of respondents age 12 or 13 (the implicit assumption being that respondents younger than 14 are not likely to hold employee jobs). If the respondent was at least 16 years old and made at least $200/week in a freelance job, the job was classified as self-employment and an extra series of questions was asked during the freelance section.

In round 3, all respondents were at least age 14 by the interview date, so the age restriction for employee jobs was no longer necessary. The structure of the section remained largely the same, with a division between employee and freelance jobs. Self-employment was classified in the same way as in the earlier rounds.

In round 4, the section was redesigned. Respondents born in 1980-82 (who were mostly age 18 and older when the round 4 field period began) were asked about employee jobs and self-employment at the same time. In addition, the minimum income requirement from the freelance section no longer applied; jobs could be classified as self-employment regardless of earnings. However, respondents born in 1983-84 (who were mostly age 16 or 17 when the round 4 field period began) continued to describe employee and freelance jobs separately. For these respondents, data on self-employment jobs were still collected in the freelance section, and freelance jobs still had to meet the income criteria to qualify as self-employment.

The round 5 employment section followed similar age restrictions and question structure as the round 4 section. For this survey, respondents born in 1980-83 (who were mostly age 18 and older when the round 5 field period began) were asked about employee jobs and self-employment. Respondents born in 1984 (who were younger than age 18 when the field period began) again described employee and freelance jobs separately.

Beginning in round 6, all respondents reported both self-employment jobs and employee jobs in the employer loop. The freelance section was dropped from the survey. From round 6 forward, information on self-employment mirrors that collected for regular employee jobs.

The employment flowcharts (PDF) capture the flow of the employment sections in the various rounds. These figures are intended to picture the major universe restrictions and question topics asked of various groups of respondents about different types of jobs. They are not a complete representation of every question in the YEMP section of the questionnaire. The first flowchart focuses on rounds 1-3; users should note that questions asked only in rounds 2 and 3 are indicated in italics. The second flow chart illustrates the change in the structure of the section for rounds 4 and 5, and the third flowchart notes the changes beginning in round 6. References to groups of questions that are the same as previous rounds are indicated in italics.