Weeks worked last week WRKLSTWK and employment status


Without knowing the interview month, how does one comment one the weeks worked last week WRKLSTWK variable?

Imagine a person becomes unemployed in June-2019, the survey is done before/after June-2019 reflects on the whole year, yet it changes the implications a lot.

The same thing occurs when we look at the employment status as well.

Thanks in advance

WRKLSTWK reports if the person worked the previous week or not for all persons aged 15 and older. Similarly, EMPSTAT captures the person’s employment status at the time of the interview. Neither is intended to report on the person’s employment status for the entire year. That being said, I understand that without the information about the timing of the ACS interview, you cannot capture any within-year variation in employment status (I would recommend IPUMS CPS if you are interested in month-to-month variation in employment).

While the decennial Census asks about your status on April 1, the ACS ties questions to the time the respondent completes the survey. It certainly makes a difference for the theoretical individual who was laid off in June of 2019 if they were interviewed before or after; however, unless the timing of the interview systematically biases these responses, you might assume that they cancel each other out across the entire sample. The ACS data are collected continuously throughout the year; however, I don’t know enough about the timing of layoffs or hiring to comment on how this might interact with an approximately constant rate of data collection.

You may be interested in the variables WORKEDYR (which reports if the person worked last year for all persons aged 16 and older) or WKSWORK2 (which reports the weeks a person worked in the preceding 12 months for persons aged 16 and older who worked last year) if you are interested in measures about the past year for each individual.