Unemployment - LFS adjusted series (une)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

1.2. Contact organisation unit

F3: Labour market

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 01/09/2015
2.2. Metadata last posted 01/09/2015
2.3. Metadata last update 01/06/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The Unemployment - LFS adjusted series (including also Harmonised long-term unemployment) is a collection of monthly, quarterly and annual series based on the quarterly results of the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), which are, where necessary, adjusted and enriched in various ways, in accordance with the specificities of an indicator.

Harmonised unemployment is published in the section 'LFS main indicators', which is a collection of the main statistics on the labour market. However the harmonized unemployment indicators are calculated with special methods and periodicity which justify the present page.

This page focuses on the particularities of the estimation of harmonised unemployment (including unemployment rates). Other information on 'LFS main indicators' can be found in the respective ESMS page, see link in section 'related metadata'. General information on the EU-LFS can be found in the ESMS page for 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)'.  Detailed information on the main features, the legal basis, the methodology and the data as well as on the historical development of the EU-LFS is available on the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage.

3.2. Classification system

The 'LFS main indicators' are produced in accordance with the relevant international classification systems.

For more details on classifications, levels of aggregation and transition rules, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Not applicable.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The definitions of employment and unemployment, as well as other survey characteristics follow the definitions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation. The definition of unemployment is further precised in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1897/2000.

This domain comprises collections of monthly, quarterly and annual averages of unemployed persons and unemployment rates. The relevant definitions are as follows:

Unemployed persons are all persons 15 to 74 years of age (16 to 74 years in ES, IT and the UK) who were not employed during the reference week, had actively sought work during the past four weeks and were ready to begin working immediately or within two weeks. Figures show the number of persons unemployed in thousands.

The duration of unemployment is defined as the duration of a search for a job or as the length of the period since the last job was held (if this period is shorter than the duration of search for a job).

Employed persons are all persons who worked at least one hour for pay or profit during the reference week or were temporarily absent from such work. This variable is needed for the calculation of the unemployment rate, the long term unemployment rate and the very long term unemployment rate (see definition below). For the unemployment rate, only persons from 15 to 74 years of age are used.

The unemployment rate is the number of people unemployed as a percentage of the labour force. The labour force is the total number of people employed and unemployed. In the database, unemployment rates can be downloaded by chosing the unit "PC_ACT", Percentage of Active Population.

The unemployment ratio is the number of people unemployed as a percentage of the population. In the database, unemployment ratios can be downloaded by chosing the unit "PC_POP", Percentage of Population.

The long term unemployment rate is the share of unemployed persons since 12 months or more in the total number of active persons in the labour market. Active persons are those who are either employed or unemployed.

Long term unemployment share is the share of the unemployed persons since 12 months or more in the total number of unemployed.

Very long term unemployment rate is the share of the unemployed persons since 24 months or more in the total number of active persons in the labour market.

The results are consistent with the adjusted employment and unemployment rates series.

Indicators to supplement unemployment rate:

  • Underemployed part-time workers are persons working part-time who wish to work additional hours and are available to do so. Part-time work is recorded as self-reported by individuals.
  • Persons seeking work but not immediately available are the sum of persons neither employed nor unemployed who: (a) are actively seeking work during the last 4 weeks but not available for work in the next 2 weeks; or (b)found a job to start in less than 3 months and are not available for work in the next 2 weeks; or (c) found a job to start in 3 months or more; or (d)are passively seeking work during the last 4 weeks and are available for work in the next 2 weeks.
  • Persons available to work but not seeking are persons neither employed nor unemployed who want to work, are available for work in the next 2 weeks but are not seeking work.

For more details, please consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology.

3.5. Statistical unit


3.6. Statistical population

The EU LFS results cover the total population usually residing in Member States, except for persons living in collective or institutional households. While demographic data are gathered for all age groups, questions relating to labour market status are restricted to persons in the age group of 15 years or older. For more details and exceptions, please consult please consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology.

3.7. Reference area

European Union, Euro area, EU Member States, Candidate Countries, EFTA Countries (except for Liechtenstein). Data for Cyprus refer only to the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Data for France do include the overseas departments (DOM) for monthly, quarterly and annual unemployment levels, rates and ratios. Long term unemployment data for France is only available excluding the DOM, and supplementary indicators provide series for both, France with and without DOM. Data for USA and Japan are also disseminated.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Available data ranges differ by Member State. Earliest data series available for unemployment rates and averages are by month, quarter and year start from 1983 onwards while data for long-term unemployment are available by quarter and year from 1992 onwards.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable. 

4. Unit of measure Top

Unemployment rates are expressed in percentage (see definition above in section 3.4), while unemployment levels are thousands of persons.

5. Reference Period Top

The reference periods are the calendar months, quarters or years, depending on the indicator. They are defined building up time periods based on the EU-LFS reference week. For details please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

The EU-LFS implementation is governed by legislative acts of the Council and Parliament, as well as of the Commission. The principal legal act is the Council Regulation (EC) No. 577/98. The implementation rules are specified in the successive Commission regulations. This is the main regulation with provisions on design, survey characteristics and decision making processes. For more details on the regulations, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Main features and legal basis.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

EU-LFS microdata as received by Eurostat from the national statistical institutes does not contain any administrative information such as names or addresses that would allow direct identification. Access to this microdata is nevertheless strictly controlled and limited to specified Eurostat staff. After data treatment, records are aggregated for all further use.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Monthly unemployment data is bound by a release calendar. Other data in the domain 'LFS main indicators' are also bound by a release calendar. Other data in the domains 'LFS series, detailed survey results' are not bound by release calendar.

8.2. Release calendar access

For monthly unemployment data - the precise date of data release is disseminated on Eurostat's website.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

In line with this protocol and on a strictly regulated basis, data on unemployment are sent for information to the European Central Bank (ECB) and to the European Commission Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (DG EMPL) under embargo the evening before official release of data.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Monthly, quarterly, annual.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases on-line (only for monthly unemployment).

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Monthly news release. Dedicated page on Unemployment Statistics in "Statistics Explained", Eurostat's wiki pages.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or address to ESTAT-MONTHLY-UNEMPLOYMENT@EC.EUROPA.EU.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Micro-data are not applicable to 'LFS main indicators' results, but EU-LFS anonymised microdata are available for research purposes. Please refer to access to microdata.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

See: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

For a detailed description of methods and concepts used, as well as for other documents related to the EU-LFS, please consult the  EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage.

The EU-LFS disseminates also publications on the methodology of the survey. For more information please consult: Quality reports and methodological publications.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

See section 11.1.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Relevance is high. Unemployment rates are among the most important socio-economic indicators. Monthly unemployment rates are Eurostat Euro-indicators; annual unemployment rates and long-term unemployment rates are Structural Indicators.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

A user satisfaction survey on monthly unemployment statistics was carried out between August and October 2012.
Overall, users are satisfied with the quality of the monthly unemployment statistics disseminated in Eurostat’s website. This is true for all the assessed quality dimensions with no exception. Accessibility and accuracy are the most highly rated quality dimensions, with accuracy being the most important dimension according to users. A limited number of users make a plea for additional breakdowns, or for a timelier data release.
For further details refer to "Rolling review of Monthly Unemployment Statistics".

12.3. Completeness

The length of the time series varies from country to country, and it is related to the date of implementation of EU-LFS rules (a national LFS not compliant with EU-LFS rules may have existed previously, e.g. previous to EU accession). However, the time series are complete from the moment they start.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The overall accuracy is considered as high. Unemployment is arguably the most important variable collected by EU-LFS, the survey design is optimized to measure unemployment.

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

13.2. Sampling error

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

13.3. Non-sampling error

Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Monthly data on seasonally adjusted unemployment rates are published approximately 31 days after the end of the month. The quarterly series are updated at approximately 120 days after the end of reference quarter. Annual averages are published along with quarter 4 data.

14.2. Punctuality

Not available.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

A common Council regulation ((EC) No 577/98), common variable definition (Commission Regulation (EC) No 430/2005), common explanatory notes (The European Union Labour Force Survey. Methods and definitions - 2001) and common regulation (Commission Regulation (EC) No 1897/2000) regarding the definition of unemployment and the twelve principles of questionnaire construction go a long way to ensure comparability of the statistics between the Participating Countries. This is, however, mainly true for the main characteristics, employment and unemployment where particular definitions and sequence of questions are part of the EU legislation. For other variables, each country has the responsibility to ensure that the national survey provides data that are compatible with the EU definitions and of the same quality.

Concerning the comparability between the monthly unemployment rates (or their quarterly and annual averages) and the direct results of the LFS, for France the two data sets are not consistent. This because the LFS results for the monthly calculations are complemented with the DOM data (départements d'outre-mer) while the original LFS data only cover "France Métropolitaine". Long term unemployment data for France is only available excluding the DOM, and supplementary indicators provide series for both, France with and without DOM.

15.2. Comparability - over time

From 2006 onwards, Commission Regulation (EC) No 430/2005 of 15 March 2005 regulates the codification to be used for data transmission and the use of a sub-sample for the collection of data on structural variables (OJ No L 71/36). As for the Participating Countries, main changes referred either to the mode of data collection or to adaptations of the questionnaire.

Often questions are asked concerning the comparability between the monthly unemployment rates (or their quarterly and annual averages) and the direct results of the LFS. Some of the differences are due to the different nature of the two data sets, but some of the differences occur just because the transition period preceding the use of the most recent quarterly data is not yet completed:

- In the monthly application, the idea is to keep the time series as comparable in time as possible. It means that possible breaks in the LFS series due to changes in the definitions or in the filtering of the micro data have been adjusted: in 1991/1992 there was general definition precision; the gradual implementation of the 'new' unemployment definition following the Regulation (EC) 1897/2000 still leads to backwards revisions while also a general improvement in the micro data filtering of the LFS data from 2001 onwards caused breaks and backwards adjustments. While the original LFS data consists of the raw series as they are recorded at each point of time, the same series are adjusted when they are used as benchmarks for the monthly harmonized time series;

- Where moving averages of the LFS are used either as a temporary or definitive solution, the monthly data do not match the corresponding quarterly LFS data;

- In the cases where only the LFS data of the Spring quarters are used, quarterly and annual averages obtained from the monthly unemployment data differ from the corresponding LFS data. This situation gradually improves when the complete results of the LFS become available and are applied.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Often questions are asked concerning coherence with registered unemployment. Both indicators are not comparable. First they have different definitions, registration rules are not harmonised internationally and they do not correspond to ILO standards. There could be other reasons for differences: different geographical coverage (e.g. regions excluded), different time coverage, etc.

15.4. Coherence - internal

The headline figures published in the monthly Unemployment News Release are seasonally adjusted unemployment rates, which are different from the LFS non-seasonally adjusted data. The non-seasonally adjusted monthly data are consistent with the published LFS data.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

The complete time series are re-calculated with every estimation. This 12 times a year for monthly data, and 4 times a year for quarterly and annual data. In each one of those releases previously released data could be revised.

Every month new figures from the public employment offices' administrative registers or from the EU-LFS are added into the process and new estimates are calculated. This might cause a slight revision in the past figures due to the re-execution of the seasonal adjustment procedure. Whenever new EU-LFS data become available, a potentially larger revision takes place from the months of that particular quarter onwards. Parameters used in the ARIMA models and for seasonal adjustment are reviewed annually.

In addition, occasional revisions  may be caused by methodological changes in the production of the monthly data.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Revisions for one or more countries, occur every month. These are announced when they occur in the monthly news release.

A link to the most recent news release can be found at the bottom of the page "Unemployment Statistics" in Statistics Explained, section Publications.

For information on EU-LFS data revisions, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Data and publication

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Different methods are used for the estimation of monthly unemployment rates and other quarterly or annual data. In all cases the EU-LFS is the main data source.

The data are calculated on a monthly basis. However, there is no legal basis regulating the production and dissemination of the monthly unemployment data, as the EU-LFS is a quarterly survey. There are legislative acts of the European Council and Parliament and of the European Commission that govern the EU-LFS (see "employ_esms" at the bottom of the page) and result in the production of quarterly labour force statistics. Eurostat is complementing this quarterly data with a monthly indicator from the LFS or from public employment offices' administrative registers delivered by the Member States on the basis of a gentlemen's agreement. The results of the complementary calculations yield the harmonized monthly unemployment data (Euro-Indicator). Quarterly and annual averages (Structural Indicator) are calculated from these harmonized time series.

The data for US and Japan are produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Government of Japan, respectively. Eurostat disseminates those data without any processing.

For additional information please refer to the technical annex below or consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Monthly and quarterly.

18.3. Data collection

EU-LFS data are acquired by interviewing the sampled individuals directly. Three modes of data collection exist for the EU-LFS: personal visits, telephone interviews and self-administered questionnaires. Half of the Participating Countries mix the two first so that the first wave is always or mainly via personal visit while subsequent waves are interviewed with telephone if available. Twenty-one of the countries conduct the interview only with computerised questionnaires. Other two use both computerised and paper questionnaires. The rest rely solely on paper questionnaires.

For more information please consult the corresponding LFS quality reports.

Other, register based unemployment information are collected from administrative sources.

Monthly data are sent to Eurostat in Microsoft Excel. Most Member States transmit the data via Edamis, while some just send them via email to the monthly unemployment functional mailbox. The files sent via Edamis are automatically stored in a specific folder on the Fame server, while those sent via email are manually copied in the same folder. All files are then treated exactly in the same way.

18.4. Data validation

Quarterly LFS data: Eurostat checks the quality and consistency of data transmitted by National Statistical Institutes. Eurostat calculates LFS results and they are then validated by the Member States. Afterwards they are published.

Seasonally-adjusted monthly unemployment data: some countries send non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) monthly data based on the LFS, and Eurostat performs the seasonal adjustment (SA). In such cases the SA data are sent to the countries for validation before their dissemination.

18.5. Data compilation

The EU LFS is a quarterly survey. The following method is used in order to produce monthly unemployment rates: for all countries, the non-seasonally adjusted quarterly averages of the monthly series are benchmarked to the quarterly LFS figures. However, the way the figures for the individual months as well as the provisional figures (for the period when LFS data are not yet available) are calculated depends on the availability and specific characteristics of the sources available in individual Member States. Eurostat aims at harmonizing the calculation process as much as possible. Apart from quarterly figures, in some Member States monthly and/or 3 month moving averages are produced from the LFS as well. Registered unemployment data are used for many Member States as auxiliary source. The length of the series and specific correlation with the unemployment figures as measured with the quarterly LFS varies from country to country.

Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Finland, Sweden and Iceland

Monthly estimates are available directly from the LFS.  For Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Iceland, trend data instead of seasonally adjusted data is published due to the high volatility of the series. For Romania, only quarterly LFS figures for youth unemployment are published. For Greece, data are available only with a delay of two months.

Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Portugal, United Kingdom, Turkey and Norway

Three month moving averages are available directly from the LFS, and are published as monthly figures under the middle month. Special cases: the last of the three months is nowcasted for Denmark and Portugal.


Quarterly LFS data are combined with monthly registered unemployment data using an AR (1) max log approach for temporal disaggregation and forecasting. 

Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, Spain, France, Cyprus,  Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia

Quarterly LFS data are combined with monthly registered unemployment data using a temporal disaggregation Denton model. For the most recent months (for which the LFS data are not yet available), the monthly benchmark factors are forecasted using seasonal ARIMA regression models. The provisional estimates are calculated by multiplying these factors by the available registered unemployment figures. See the Annex for technical details. It is important to note that the LFS in Belgium does not have a panel design, due to which sampling fluctuations can be larger than in other countries. For Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus and Slovenia only quarterly LFS figures for youth unemployment are published.

Luxembourg and Croatia 

Benchmarking to moving annual averages of LFS data and linear extrapolation of registered unemployment data.


Quarterly LFS data are combined with monthly registered unemployment data using the Chow-Lin model for temporal disaggregation. For the most recent months (for which the LFS data are not yet available), the monthly figures are forecasted using the Chow-Lin method with the registered unemployment as auxiliary variable.

 For all countries data compilation takes place for eight basic series in the levels: (employed and unemployed)x(males and females)x(young and adults). 

The levels for the European aggregates are obtained by simply adding up the national data (see below for adjustments on country data).

Rates/Ratios both for each country and for the EU aggregates are subsequently calculated from the data expressed in levels (i.e. number of persons).

Annual averages of the quarterly data in levels are produced as simple averages of the quarterly populations. Again, these are the basis for the computation of the annual unemployment rates.

18.6. Adjustment

Annual averages of the quarterly data are produced as simple averages of the quarterly results.
For the period when the survey was run annually in spring or biannually in Spring and Autumn, Eurostat calculates annual averages as follows: first, the annual or biannual results are disaggregated into quarterly results, by interpolation of the spring data; then the annual averages are obtained from those quarterly estimates.
In general, the LFS detailed survey results and the LFS adjusted series are consistent from 2005 onwards. For a few countries the figures in the two collections diverge also for years after 2005. This is due to the need to correct for breaks in time-series introduced by incorporating the 2011 Census results the weighting of the LFS in the LFS adjusted series. Where available, LFS series adjusted for breaks provided by NSIs are used in the production for the monthly unemployment series.
Here follow the list of countries for which Eurostat either estimated quarterly figures by interpolation of annual or biannual results or recalculated part of the time series to correct for breaks.
The the end of Eurostat's recalculated period for the monthly, the quarterly and the yearly data is reported (flagged with "i" in Eurobase):

Country Month Quarter Year
Bulgaria Dec-10 2010 Q4 2010
Denmark Dec-06 2006 Q4 2006
Germany Mar-05 2005 Q1 2005
Estonia Apr-08 2008 Q2 2008
Greece Dec-03 2003 Q4 2003
Spain Dec-95 1995 Q4 1995
France Dec-95 1995 Q4 1995
Croatia Sep-06 2006 Q3 2006
Cyprus Mar-04 2004 Q1 2004
Latvia Sep-01 2001 Q3 2001
Luxembourg Dec-06 2006 Q4 2006
Hungary Jan-08 2008 Q1 2008
the Netherlands Dec-02 2002 Q4 2002
Austria Dec-03 2003 Q4 2003
Poland Dec-09 2009 Q4 2009
Portugal Jan-98 1997Q4 1997
Romania Dec-03 2003 Q4 2003
Slovakia Sep-11 2011 Q3 2011
Sweden Dec-00 2000 Q4 2000

Seasonal adjustment is done by Eurostat for most Member States on a disaggregated level (country by gender by age group, indirect approach) using TRAMO/SEATS and X-12 (trend calculation for Germany).

For more information on the transition to a quarterly continuous survey, see EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) webpage: Development and history.

19. Comment Top

See annexes.

Related metadata Top
employ_esms - Employment and unemployment (Labour force survey)

Annexes Top
Technical details unemployment calculations
Long-term unemployment rate