Discouraged job-seekers, a subset of the potential labour force, refer to those persons of working age who during a specified reference period were without work and available for work, but did not look for work in the recent past for specific reasons (for example, believing that there were no jobs available, believing there were none for which they would qualify, or having given up hope of finding employment). The working-age population is commonly defined as persons aged 15 years and older, but this varies from country to country. In addition to using a minimum age threshold, certain countries also apply a maximum age limit.

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