Labour costs survey 2008, 2012 and 2016 - NACE Rev. 2 activity (lcs_r2)

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)

Eurostat and National Quality Reports according to ESQRS (ESS Standard for Quality Reports Structure)
National metadata

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 and lifelong learning

1.5. Contact mail address

BECH Building

5, Rue Alphonse Weicker L-2721 LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 27/04/2020
2.2. Metadata last posted 27/04/2020
2.3. Metadata last update 27/04/2020

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Labour cost statistics cover 2 main data collections: 

  • Labour Cost Survey (LCS) - long-term data collection conducted every 4 years
  • Labour Cost Index (LCI) - short-term data collection conducted every quarter (for more info please consult LCI metadata

Both statistics are based on a harmonised definition of labour costs.


Labour cost survey (LCS), collected every four years, provides detailed information on the level and structure of labour cost data, hours worked and hours paid in different sectors of economic activity in the European Union, EFTA countries, candidate and potential candidate countries transmitting the data to Eurostat.

LCS results are available for the reference years 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. All EU Member States together with Norway and Iceland (2004 onwards), Turkey and Macedonia (2008), as well as Serbia (2012) participated in the LCS. As far as available data and confidentiality rules permit, all variables and proportions are further broken down by enterprise size category, economic activity and region (for larger countries only).

The data are collected by the National Statistical Institutes in most cases on the basis of stratified random samples of enterprises or local units, restricted in most countries to units with at least 10 employees. The stratification is based on economic activity, size category and region (where appropriate). Regional metadata is identical to the metadata provided for national data. Some countries also complement the survey results with administrative data. Monetary variables are expressed in EUR, national currencies (for non-euro-area countries) and Purchasing Power Standards (PPS). Labour costs are quoted in total per year, per month and per hour, as well as per capita and per full-time equivalents (FTE). Information on staff, hours worked and hours paid is quoted in aggregate and separately for full- and part-time employees.

3.2. Classification system

Data is available by economic activity according to the General Industrial Classification of Economic Activities (NACE) and (for larger countries) by region according to the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS). The economic activity (NACE) and regional breakdown (NUTS) are based on the version which was valid in that reference year.

Economic activity is broken down at the division level of the NACE classification.

From reference year 2008 onwards NACE Rev. 2 classification had to be applied in all data collections recording data by economic activities. In order to allow a comparison of the LCS 2008 results with the data of the former LCS reference years, LCS2008 data is available both in NACE Rev. 1.1 (previous classification used) as well as in NACE Rev.2 as stipulated by Commission Regulation 973/2007.

3.3. Coverage - sector

LCS 2008 and 2012: NACE Rev. 2 Sections B to S excluding section O. Some countries also provided data for Section O.

LCS 2000 and 2004: NACE Rev. 1.1 Sections C to K, as well as M to O (for 2004). Some countries also provided data in respect of Sections A, B and L.

Five size categories are distinguished: 10 to 49 employees, 50 to 249 employees, 250 to 499 employees, 500 to 999 employees and units having at least 1 000 employees. Some countries have extended their survey coverage to smaller units, so that a sixth size category (units with less than 10 employees) is also available in their case.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

Labour Costs refer to the total expenditure borne by employers for the purpose of employing staff. They include employee compensation, which is mainly comprised of gross wages and salaries in cash and in kind and employers' social security contributions, vocational training costs, other expenditure, such as recruitment costs and spending on working clothes, and employment taxes regarded as labour costs minus subsidies received.

These labour cost components and their elements are defined in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1737/2005 of 21 October 2005, implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 530/1999 concerning structural statistics on earnings and labour costs as regards the definition and transmission of information on labour costs.

The available collections refer to Labour Costs Surveys of 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

The labour cost structure (EC Regulation 1737/2005) is also available: the different core components of the total labour costs are given as a percentage of the overall value of labour costs. For regional metadata see national metadata.

For some variables, data is not available due to missing elements in particular components.

Hourly labour costs are annual labour costs divided by the number of hours worked during the reference year.

Monthly labour costs per employee are the annual labour costs divided by 12 and by the average number of employees during the year (converted into full-time equivalents).

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit is the enterprise or local unit.

3.6. Statistical population

LCS applies to all activities in sections B to S (excluding section O) of NACE Rev.2 and represents all statistical units occupying 10 and more employees.

The coverage of NACE section O and units with less than 10 employees is optional.

LCS 2008: France NACE Rev. 2 section P (division 85) / NACE Rev. 1.1 section M values are not available for some variables. Therefore, those cases where these values are involved in the calculations of the figures for the European Union / Euro area and for the relevant NACE aggregations (e.g. aggregate B to S (excluding O), P to S, etc.) are flagged with an (i).

3.7. Reference area

LCS 2012: EU28 Member States, Macedonia, Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Serbia.

LCS 2008: EU27 Member States plus Croatia, Macedonia, Turkey, Norway and Iceland.

LCS 2004: EU25 Member States plus Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, Norway and Iceland.

LCS 2000: The majority of the EU Member States, Norway and Iceland.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Member States have had a legal obligation to carry out Labour Cost Surveys since 1999. Online results are available every four years from reference year 2000 up to 2012.

As from LCS2008 (data in NACE Rev. 2 classification), data is available in the same table, which allows better and faster comparability of data across time. Nonetheless, comparability over time may be distorted by improved methodology at national level over the years. 

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Labour costs and their main components (wages and salaries; direct remuneration, bonuses and allowances; employers' social security contributions and other labour costs) are expressed in absolute terms (EUR, national currencies - if different, - and Purchasing Power Standards (PPS)) and pro rata (annually, monthly or hourly and per capita or in full-time units (FTU)). Other variables are measured in absolute numbers (number of employees, number of hours worked, number of hours paid and number of statistical units) and percentages (structure of labour costs).

5. Reference Period Top

The LCS data provided by Member States cover the whole calendar year.

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

The collection of four-yearly labour cost data is based on Commission Regulation (EC) No 1737/2005 of 21 October 2005 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 530/1999 concerning structural statistics on earnings and labour costs as regards the definition and transmission of information on labour costs.

Regional data is collected according to the NUTS 2010 legal act No (EC) 31/2011 amending EC Regulation No 1059/2003

Links to legal acts below:

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

Confidential data is flagged. Countries inform Eurostat if confidential data shall be flagged.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not applicable.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

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.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


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

See Eurostat's most recent News Release on:

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Labour cost structural statistics - levels (2012)

Labour cost structural statistics - changes (2012/2008)

Further details on Eurostat's website under the following link:

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or refer to contact details.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other


10.6. Documentation on methodology

See Annexes below

10.7. Quality management - documentation

LCS Quality Reports by countries are available on CIRCABC website 'Wages and labour costs'.

LCS 2000: Details of the quality of the 2000 survey can be found in the summary of the Quality Report (see paragraph 21.3 Annex: Labour Cost Survey 2000 - Quality Report, Oct. 2003).

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Upon transmission to Eurostat, LCS data from the Member States are checked for completeness and consistency.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

A compulsory quality report from each Member State is collected by Eurostat.

See Annex for further details.

COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 698/2006 of 5 May 2006 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 530/1999 as regards quality evaluation of structural statistics on labour costs and earnings.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The LCS results serve to provide a sound empirical foundation for decision-makers in national and European social policy and to establish reliable and harmonized comparisons of labour costs and its components between European countries or regions.

The main users of the survey are; the European Commission, European Parliament, ECB, OECD, IMF, ILO, etc. at international level, as well as Ministries for Economy or Finance, trade unions, employers' associations, political parties, research centres, universities and the media at national level.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available.

12.3. Completeness

The quality reports show that the LCSs were to a large extent carried out without serious problems with regard to NACE coverage or coverage of mandatory variables. For a few Member States, completeness was slightly affected by a few variables related to apprentices. In some Member States, candidate countries or EFTA countries, the LCSs were in almost all cases carried out with the enterprise as statistical unit but with a NACE coverage going beyond the mandatory scope (e. g. NACE Rev. 2 sections A or O) and the coverage of enterprises with less than 10 employees.

For further details see the paragraphs 11.2 and 21.3.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Details about accuracy can be found in the countries’ Quality Reports by respective reference year.

13.2. Sampling error

Details about sampling errors can be found in the countries’ Quality Reports by respective reference year.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Details about non-sampling errors can be found in the countries’ Quality Reports by respective reference year.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Countries are obliged to transmit complete and consistent data from the Labour Cost Surveys within 18 months of the end of the reference period. On average, it takes another four to six months to prepare the data for general distribution. However, many data revisions by countries after the legal data transmission deadline hamper Eurostat's time schedule for publishing the LCS results.

14.2. Punctuality

Data may be available relatively later than expected due to delays in data transmission by the country or because it is still blocked under Eurostat’s validation procedures. These delays could also affect the publication of the corresponding EU-aggregates.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Data are largely comparable between countries.

Geographic comparability over time may be affected by breaks in the NUTS classification.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Comparability of the LCS results, for the same geographical unit, is reduced in case of changes in definitions, coverage or methods between both surveys.

Data comparability over time may also be affected by improved methodologies at national level between different vintages. 

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Information on labour costs is also included in National Accounts and collected in Structural Business Surveys (SBS), although in far less detail. Methodological differences rule out complete comparability. National Accounts as well as SBS data cover units of all size categories and use different statistical units. In addition, their labour cost concepts are narrower, as they do not cover other expenditure and related taxes minus subsidies under the labour costs heading.

Structural Business Statistics (SBS, annual data) and the Labour Force Survey (LFS, quarterly data) are surveys that partly measure similar or identical variables, such as "number of employees" or "wages and salaries". Whilst the National Accounts (NA) and the Labour Cost Survey (LCS) are closely related, certain coherence problems should be taken into account when comparing data relating to the same variables from the four different sources (LCS, SBS, Structure of Earnings Survey (SES) and NA).

The LFS statistical unit is the household, whereas the LCS refers to the local unit of the enterprise, which is currently restricted to units with at least 10 employees for most countries. This difference may affect the identification of economic activities and, consequently, the results broken down by economic activity.

By contrast with the LCS, the SBS use the enterprise as the statistical unit and do not adjust for companies that were inactive during the reference year. Within the respective SBS and LCS frameworks, the enterprise (SBS) and the local unit (LCS) are assigned to an economic activity on the basis of its main component. The LCS may, therefore, assign local enterprise units to different economic activities. The fact that enterprises with fewer than 10 employees are not covered in all the national LCS affects the compatibility between the LCS and SBS, particularly in the case of NACE sections covering predominantly small enterprises (for example, NACE Sections G or H). In addition, head counting may vary, especially in the case of temporary workers or the treatment of certain employee categories. Thus, management staff, sales representatives and family workers are excluded from the LCS, but may be included in the SBS.

National accounts and the SBS record all employees, regardless of company size, whereas the LCS does not cover enterprises with fewer than 10 employees in all countries. This explains why NA data on numbers of employees are normally higher. In particular, NACE sections characterised by a high percentage of small enterprises, such as G and H, may show markedly different values for total employee numbers or total employee remuneration in the LCS. Unlike LCS, NA also includes non-payroll staff. Moreover, employees with multiple jobs are counted in LCS according to the number of jobs they hold whereas they are counted only once in NA. However, it is expected that NA and LCS show similar developments between 2008 and 2012 which was generally the case except for Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovakia where a divergence of more than 10 percentage points was recorded in the number of hours worked. LCS data for those countries should be used with caution as regards the total number of hours worked, number of hours paid and the total number of employees.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Additional checks and comparisons with Labour Cost Index (LCI) data are done in order to assess internal coherence with regard to labour costs.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Apart from adjustments following internal checks, the data are accepted directly as communicated by the Member States. Revisions only occur rarely.

17.2. Data revision - practice

If necessary, after running a series of data validation checks, countries are asked to revise their data until it is considered fit for publishing.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The data are collected by the National Statistical Institutes.

No single type of survey is used; survey type varies by country and these vary from dedicated surveys to use of administrative data sources. Further details on the type of survey used by each NSI can be found in the Quality Reports as well as in the Synthesis of Quality Reports.

18.2. Frequency of data collection


18.3. Data collection

In most cases the data are collected by the National Statistical Institutes on the basis of stratified random samples of enterprises or local units having at least 10 employees. The stratification is based on economic activity, size category and region (where appropriate).

18.4. Data validation

Data communicated by individual countries are checked for internal consistency and coherence. Several levels of checking are defined:

- Data entry checks, controlling the appropriate variable names;

- Record level checks, controlling the values of the variables;

- Checks on relationships between variables, size classes and sectors;

- Checks on the relationships between national data and regional data.

18.5. Data compilation

Conversion into EUR and PPS is based on the annual conversion rates for those years.

EU aggregates are obtained as weighted averages of the available national data.

In the case of confidential data for one EU/EA country, the country concerned is not included in the aggregate compilation as long as it has less than 10% weight on the sum of the total EU values. In such case, EU/EA data is flagged with a ":d" to the corresponding value. In the case the weight of the confidential country's value has more than 10% on the EU, the corresponding aggregate is considered to be unreliable and hence EU is flagged with a ":u" note. When there are two or more EU countries with confidential data, the EU figure corresponds to the total set of EU countries.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable.

19. Comment Top

LCS 2008 and 2012 (United Kingdom) hours worked had been estimated on the basis of data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and then cannot be compared with other countries' data.

For Belgium, LCS 2012 number of hours paid per week are not consistent with the number of hours worked.

For Romania, LCS2000 data are expressed in ROL (national currency), LCS2004 data are expressed in thousands ROL (national currency) whereas LCS2008 data are expressed in RON (new national currency starting with 1st of July 2005).

In order to make the figures comparable across time, take note that 1 RON = 10000 ROL.

Labour Cost data including apprentices (lc_n08costot_r2) are calculated differently in Member States. Hence, the conversion of apprentices into full-time units (FTUs), usually based on the number of hours worked, is not the same for all member states or not available. Thus the comparison of Labour Cost data including apprentices may not be fully comparable with Labour Cost data excluding apprentices (lc_n08cost_r2).

For Slovenia (LCS 2012) variable D4 may contain negative values because in Slovenia D4 also covers penalty taxes to be paid in some European countries by employers for employing too few handicapped persons. Companies also receive benefits if they employ more handicapped persons than they should and in this case labour costs are reduced.

Further details of the compatibility of information from the different sources and the peculiarities of individual national LCS data can be found in the countries' Quality Reports.

LCS2016 data will become available in summer 2018.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top
Link to LCS Quality Reports
LCS 2012 implementing arrangements
LCS 2008 implementing arrangements
LCS 2016 implementing arrangements