Ask and you shall receive. The Division of Labor Force Statistics at the Bureau of Labor Statistics kindly responded to my e-mail, and they set me straight on whether Ryan, who commented on the original post, would be classified as discouraged or just not in the labor force. Recall that Ryan described himself in this way:
I was let go and looked for work for 6 months before deciding that what I really needed to do to get a decent paying and more stable career path was to go back to school. If I had been able to find a job, I'd be working.Here's the text of the very helpful e-mail (with my emphasis added on the parts that are directly relevant to the discussion thread):
Your question was forwarded to me. This is a good question. I have attached a document below that will provide more information on the concepts and definitions used in the Current Population Survey or CPS. The CPS is the main source of information on the labor force in the United States and is a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households.
Questions posed to respondents in the CPS refer to their activity during the Sunday to Saturday that includes the 12th day of each month.
To be classified as unemployed, a person would have not had any employment during the survey reference week, had to be available for work (except for temporary illness), and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. (Individuals who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off are not required to have been looking for work to be classified as employed.)
People who are defined as discouraged workers are individuals who are not in the labor force (i.e. they are not employed or unemployed), but want and are available for a job and had looked for work at some point in the prior 12 months; however, they are not currently looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available or are none for which they would qualify.
Discouraged workers are a subset of the "marginally attached" and these individuals meet the same conditions with regard to their ability to take a job and job search in the prior 12 months, but the reasons they provided for not looking include, for example, transportation problems, child care problems, or ill health/disability.
To specifically answer your question: this person would be considered to be not in the labor force. Additional information would have to be obtained to determine whether this person meets the criteria mentioned above.
Again, I have attached a document below that provides more information on the concepts and definitions used in the CPS. http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch1_c.htm
This person most likely would fall under the broader group of people who say that they "want a job now" and we do publish this estimate monthly. These individuals are considered to be not in the labor force, but are not considered to be marginally attached because they did not meet the criteria for job search in the prior year and/or were not available to take a job during the survey reference week.
BLS does publish this series monthly and here is the code for this series. (This is the code for the seasonally adjusted monthly data.)
Simply paste this code into the box on this site, choose "All Years" and then click on "Retrieve data". http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/srgate
I hope this information is helpful and please let me know if you have any additional questions.