Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Reasons unable to start a job

Release date: November 17, 2021


Refers to the reasons why persons could not have started a job during the week of Sunday, May 2 to Saturday, May 8, 2021 had one been available.

Previously, in other census cycles, early enumeration was conducted in remote, isolated parts of the provinces and territories in the months leading up to the May enumeration. Because of COVID-19, there was no early enumeration for the 2021 Census. Collection procedures—especially in collective dwellings and remote, northern, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities—were redesigned to ensure the census was conducted in the best possible way, using a safe and secure approach.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (25% sample); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, please refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and over, in private households, who did not work for pay or in self-employment during the week of Sunday, May 2 to Saturday, May 8, 2021 and who actively looked for paid work in the four weeks prior to enumeration.

Question number(s)

Direct variable: Question 42


Yes, could have started a job; No, already had a job; No, because of temporary illness or disability; No, because of personal or family responsibilities; No, going to school; No, other reasons


This variable is used to derive the respondent's labour force status.

'Availability for work,' in the reference week, is based on the individual's responses to Question 41 (Did this person look for paid work during the four weeks from April 11 to May 8, 2021?) and Question 42 (Could this person have started a job during the week of Sunday, May 2 to Saturday, May 8, 2021 had one been available?), as well as Question 37 (School attendance).

For more information, see the definitions for Unemployed and Not in the labour force variables.

For information on the comparability of the 2021 Census labour force status data with those of the Labour Force Survey, see Appendix 2.11.


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