Universe Definition for WNLOOK in CPS



I just have a question about the universe for the CPS variable WNLOOK. It currently reads “Persons 15+ who are unemployed and have not looked for work within the past 4 weeks.” To be considered unemployed, I believe you have to have looked for work in the past 4 weeks, so the above definition seems impossible (or would include 0 people). When WNLOOK is cross tabbed with EMPSTAT, only people not in the labor force are something other than 999 for 2016 and 2017 monthly Wisconsin data.

Thanks for any clarification you can provide.




It sounds like there may be some confusion between the concepts of “not in the labor force” and “unemployed”. Employment status indicates whether or not an individual was working or not. (More information about the employment status definition can be found in the EMPSTAT variable description.) To be in the labor force, one does not have to be employed, they must however be seeking work if unemployed. This is why when the two conditions (unemployed + not looking for work) of the universe statement in WNLOOK are put together only individuals who are not in the labor force respond to this question.