Does the variable EMPSTAT spesifically identify those not in labor force because of disability?



The Census Bureau has a set of seven questions/variables that they recommend using to identify adults who have a work disability. One of these questions is the CPS variable PEMLR. When PEMLR = 6, then an individual is not in labor force due to a disability. IMPUS has a similar variable, which I believe is EMPSTAT, but there are currently only three options for “not in labor force”: 1) unable to work- 32, 2) retired-34, and 3) other-36.

Are individuals coded as not in labor force because they are unable to work (PEMLR = 32) ONLY individuals who are disabled or do they include other individuals as well?

Thank you.


In some years (after 1988) the Census Bureau’s variable PEMLR==6 indicates “disabled” and in other years this code indicates “unable to work”. In IPUMS CPS, we have harmonized EMPSTAT==32 to be “Not in Labor Force - unable to work”. Therefore, if you are looking at data from more recent years, then EMPSTAT==32 indicates those who are explicitly “disabled”.