EMPSTAT indicates whether or not the respondent was part of the labor force -- working or seeking work -- over a specified period of time. Depending on the sample, EMPSTAT can also convey further information.
The first digit of EMPSTAT is fully comparable, and classifies the population into three groups: employed, unemployed, and inactive. The combination of employed and unemployed yields the total labor force. The second and third digits of EMPSTAT preserve additional information available for some countries and census years but not for others.
Employment status is sometimes referred to in other sources as "activity status".