I have translated "unemployed" into German. There are four translations for that: "arbeitslos, beschäftigungslos, erwerbslos, unbeschäftigt".

I am studying the difference between them.

arbeitslos = "ohne Arbeit bei Arbeitsfähigkeit, erwerbslos" - DWDS

beschäftigungslos = "ohne Beschäftigung" - DWDS

erwerbslos = "ohne Arbeit und Erwerb trotz Arbeitsfähigkeit, arbeitslos" - DWDS

unbeschäftigt = "ohne Beschäftigung" - DWDS

hypothesis: "erwerbslos" is very formal.

What is the difference?

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    Again, I recommend to use the approach to try a translation of the German words back to English --> linguee.de/deutsch-englisch/… – Iris Oct 28 '16 at 11:18
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    This starts to seem like a clever way of avoiding closure. Instead of asking for a complete translation of a CV or similar, you might ask for a translation of the words one by one. Is this on topic? – Beta Oct 28 '16 at 12:21
  • @Beta I'm not sure someone would really go through the hassle to translate a text of any length this way, word by word, question by question. – Henning Kockerbeck Oct 28 '16 at 15:16
  • @HenningKockerbeck but so it seems, at least all the "difficult words" – Beta Oct 28 '16 at 15:19
  • @Beta I'm still doubtful, to be honest. If somebody is basically too lazy to translate a text themselves, I don't see them taking a way more labourious route like this. They'll probably just try the next website that is more or less on topic. Additionally, considering questions like this off topic would block people that actually want to know about such differences. For example, I'm used to the Japanese word 「友達」 for "friend". Today, I learnt 「友人」 and I wondered, what's the difference. If I wouldn't have found a question similar to this one here, I probably would have asked myself. – Henning Kockerbeck Oct 28 '16 at 15:25

"Arbeitslos" is probably the most direct way of saying "unemployed", "without a paying job".

"Erwerbslos" is a bit broader, meaning that somebody doesn't aquire ("erwerben") money, or isn't earning their lifelyhood. In most societies today, earning one's lifelyhood is mostly done in a paying job. But there are other ways, for example freelancing or living off a lottery win. Additionally, "erwerbslos" is a bit of an euphemism. It's considered a little rude to call somebody "arbeitslos" ("that bloke can't get a job!"). So in official documents and the like, you'll rather find "erwerbslos".

"Beschäftigungslos" is also a bit broader than "arbeitslos". It basically means "without occupation". That mostly means "without a paying job", but can also mean "with nothing do to (and therefore bored)". That goes for "unbeschäftigt" even more.

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    There's also "arbeitssuchend" as euphemism for "unemployed". – tofro Oct 28 '16 at 12:37
  • @tofro, "arbeitssuchend" officially means that you are still employed, but you are looking for a (new) job, e.g., because you have only a fixed-term contract. – Iris Oct 28 '16 at 13:23
  • @Iris simply "looking for a job" doesn't qualify you for "arbeitssuchend" in a legal sense (You might be looking for a new job just because you're working on your career) - The legal sense implies your current contract has ended or is about to end. – tofro Oct 28 '16 at 15:08
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    I think you need to distinguish between the literal meaning of "arbeitssuchend" ("looking for work") and the euphemistic meaning. The latter would probably equal the English phrase "to be between jobs". – Henning Kockerbeck Oct 28 '16 at 15:18
  • @tofro, as soon as your contract ends your status swiches from being "arbeitssuchend" to "arbeitslos". But yes, you are right, you are only "arbeitssuchend" if you have to look for a job, because you are going to be unemployed soon. – Iris Oct 28 '16 at 15:39

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