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Years on main or longest or last job

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults aged 18 and older who are currently working or who have ever worked, YEARSONJOB reports the number of years the person worked at her or his main job.

Respondents who did not answer the question about their main job but who had worked in their lifetime were instructed to report about their most recent job, unless they were over 65 or reported not working because they were retired. These respondents were instructed to answer for the job they had held the longest.


Slight changes to the universe may affect comparability of the variable over time. The underlying questions that define the universe do not change; however, the way that the National Center for Health Statistics labels them does. In 2001-2003, this question is asked of sample adults aged 18 and older who were working last week; who have a job or business but were not at work last week; who worked, but not for pay in the last week; or those who had ever worked. While the underlying survey question that asks about employment status last week does not change between 2003 and 2004, the 2004 NCHS labels working but not for pay as "working, but not for pay, at a family owned job or business". Otherwise there are no comparability issues.


  • 2001-2018: Sample adults age 18+ who worked last week or were temporarily absent from a job last week, or who have ever worked.


  • 2001-2018