Data Cart

Your data extract

0 variables
0 samples
View Cart
Continuous weeks unemployed


000 = Less than one week of employment (For specific samples only. See comparability).
999 = NIU (Not in Universe) or Missing.


DURUNEMP indicates for how many consecutive weeks each currently unemployed respondent had been without a job and looking for work. If a respondent had not done any work for pay or profit during the preceding week, did not have a job from which he or she was temporarily absent, and had been actively looking for work in the past four weeks, the interviewer asked, "How many weeks have you been looking for work?" and "How many weeks ago did you start looking?"

Beginning in 1988, DURUNEMP also indicates the number of continuous weeks of layoff for workers who were laid off from a job (due, for example, to slow business conditions) but expected to return to the same job. If a respondent reported being absent from a job during the preceding week due to temporary (under 30 days) or indefinite (30 days or more) layoff, the interviewer asked, "How many weeks ago were you laid off?"

DURUNEM2 provides the same information as DURUNEMP in intervalled form for the entire data series.


Apart from changes in the universe, this variable is comparable across years. Beginning in 1994, the public use files of the ASEC CPS data treat DURUNEMP as a three digit variable, but the value of the first digit is always zero. IPUMS-CPS consistently treats DURUNEMP as a two-digit variable.

Researchers who need information on the duration of employment for 1963-1967 as well may prefer to work with the intervalled data in DURUNEM2.

For ASEC samples 1962-1975 and all Basic Monthly samples, 0 represents less than 1 week of unemployment. For all other ASEC samples, 0 is not an option for respondents.

All ASEC samples are topcoded at 99.

Starting in 2011, Basic Monthly samples were topcoded at 119. Any Basic Monthly samples prior to 2011 were top coded at 999.

Comparability with IPUMS-USA

Conceptually, the DURUNEMP variable for the 1940 and 1950 censuses in IPUMS-USA is largely comparable to DURUNEMP in IPUMS-CPS, but there are universe differences. The 1940 census collected information on the duration of unemployment from unemployed persons and persons included on public emergency work projects, while the 1950 census queried only unemployed sample-line persons. In both census years, such information was collected for persons age 14+. There are also important differences between IPUMS-CPS and IPUMS-USA in the meaning of some codes for DURUNEMP. In IPUMS-CPS (only for specific samples. See comparability above.) and IPUMS-USA, zero means unemployed less than 1 week, and N/A has a code of "999." There is no longer a topcode for DURUNEMP in IPUMS-CPS; the topcode is 250 weeks and 100 weeks for the 1940 and 1950 censuses, respectively.


  • 1962: Civilians who were looking for work (pre-1968 samples do not include persons under age 14).
  • 1968-1987: Civilians 14+ who were looking for work.
  • 1988+: Civilians 15+ who were looking for work or on layoff.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1962 - - X - - - - - - - - - -
1968 – 1993 - - X - - - - - - - - - -
1994 – 2023 X X X X X X X X X X X X X
2024 X X - X X X - - - - - - -