WNLOOK mostly NIU?

I’m attempting to use WNLOOK but nearly all the values I’m getting are NIU (WNLOOK=999). I was wondering if anyone else has run into this, or if I’ve done something wrong.

WNLOOK is in the monthly CPS. I’ve linked it to ASEC (using MARBASECIDP).

E.g. for 2000, I get 121194 linked observations. Of these, 32321 are age >= 15 and ‘Not In Labor Force’ (NILF) per EMPSTAT.

The universe of WNLOOK is “Persons 15+ who are unemployed and have not looked for work within the past 4 weeks” which should be similar to NILF per EMPSTAT.

However of the 32321 age >= 15, NILF observations, 30524 (94.4%) have WNLOOK=999, NIU.

Any ideas?


This variable is actually a part of the “discouraged workers” battery of questions, as indicated by the “unemployed and have not looked for work within the past 4 weeks” universe clause. The conditions to be asked the “Main reason not looking for work during last four weeks” question include filters for disabled individuals, retired individuals, and individuals who do not want work. Furthermore, many of these filter variables are not allocated, meaning that if a responded refused to answer a question or a question was left blank for another reason, that respondent may still eventually be asked the “reason not looking for work.” I do agree that the current Universe Statement is potentially misleading and I have brought the issue to the attention of the IPUMS CPS Team.

I hope this helps!

Thanks, that helps a great deal.

Do you know where would I find documentation on the “discouraged workers” battery of questions (IPUMS or elsewhere)?

I’m particularly interested variables that might shed light on individuals who answered WANTJOB=no.

The best place to start would be Technical Paper 66: Current Population Survey - Design and Methodology, which includes detailed definitions, as well as how these definitions have changed over time. You can also find references to discouraged workers in the CPS Interviewing Manual to see the actual line of questions used to identify discouraged workers.

I hope this helps.