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Reason for unemployment

Codes and Frequencies

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WHYUNEMP specifies why respondents were unemployed--either actively seeking work or on temporary layoff from a job--during the previous week. For discussion of the technical definition of the status "unemployed," see the EMPSTAT variable.

Responses for WHYUNEMP distinguish between workers who had lost jobs (due to temporary layoff, involuntary job loss, or ending of a temporary job), those who had quit jobs, those who were re-entering the labor force after an extended absence from the work force, and those who were seeking their first jobs (new entrants).


For ASEC samples from 1988-1993 and for Basic Monthly samples from 1989-1993, the code, "temporary job ended," is not available. In other respects, this variable is comparable over time.


  • 1976-1988: Respondants age 14+ who were unemployed (looking for work) during the previous week.
  • 1989+: Civilians age 15+ who were unemployed (looking for work) or on layoff during the previous week.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1976 – 1987 X X - X X X X X X X X X X
1988 – 2023 X X X X X X X X X X X X X
2024 X X - X X X - - - - - - -


This variable has no flags.