Constructing marginally attached and discouraged worker estimates in the CPS


In the basic CPS files, I have not been able to identify the variables for a) whether an individual “wants a job” and b) whether a person has searched for work in the past 12 months. I would like to be able to construct estimates of three populations: those who want work in a given month, those who are marginally attached, and those who are discouraged workers.

Can you tell me if I am simply missing where this information is available in IPUMS-CPS? Thank you!


The variable WANTJOB will help you identify respondents not in the labor force that wanted a job, either full- or part-time. Additionally, the following variables can help your determine those looking for work in the previous year:

  • NWLOOKWK reports the number of weeks that civilian adults who did not work during the preceding calendar year spent looking for work or on layoff.

  • NWLOOKWK2 reports the number of weeks, in intervals, that the respondent spent looking for work in the previous year.

In general, all work related variables for the ASEC can be found here.