LFS series - detailed annual survey results (lfsa)

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

Unit F3: Labour market and lifelong learning

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 10/01/2018
2.2. Metadata last posted 30/01/2018
2.3. Metadata last update 30/01/2018

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The section 'LFS series - detailed annual survey results' reports annual results from the EU-LFS. While LFS is a quarterly survey, it is also possible to produce annual results. There are several ways of doing it, see section '18.5 Data compilation' below for details.

This data collection covers all main labour market characteristics, i.e. the total population, activity and activity rates, employment, employment rates, self employed, employees, temporary employment, full-time and part-time employment, population in employment having a second job, working time, total unemployment and inactivity.

General information on the EU-LFS can be found in the ESMS page for 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)', see link in related metadata. 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 EU-LFS results are produced in accordance with the relevant international classification systems. The main classifications used are NACE Rev.1 (NACE Rev.1.1 from 2005) and NACE Rev. 2 (from 2008) for economic activity, ISCO 88 (COM) and ISCO 08 (from 2011) for occupation and ISCED 1997 and ISCED 2011 (from 2014) for the level of education. Actual coding in the EU-LFS may deviate to some extent from those general standards; for more details on classifications (including the comparability between the revised classifications), levels of aggregation and transition rules, please consult EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology >> classification.

EU-LFS also uses a classification of degree of urbanisation (this is a developed version of 'rural/urban' categorisation). This classification maps geographical areas (at level Local Administrative Units - Level 2/municipalities) into three categories with low, medium or high degree of urbanisation. This is done using a criterion of geographical contiguity in combination with a minimum population threshold based on population grid square cells of 1 km². The classification has been revised (from 2012). For more details, please consult: Eurostat-Metadata.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Not applicable.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) provides population estimates for the main labour market characteristics, such as employment, unemployment, inactivity, hours of work, occupation, economic activity and other labour related variables, as well as important socio-demographic characteristics, such as sex, age, education, household characteristics and regions of residence.

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.

The definitions of the presented indicators can be summarised as follows:

Employed persons comprise persons aged 15 years and more who were in one of the following categories:

  • persons who during the reference week worked for at least one hour for pay or profit or family gain.
  • persons who were not at work during the reference week but had a job or business from which they were temporarily absent.

Unemployed persons comprise persons aged 15 to 74 who fulfil all the three following conditions:

  • were not employed during the reference week;
  • were available to start work within the two weeks following the reference week;
  • have been actively seeking work in the four weeks preceding the reference week or have already found a job to start within the next three months.

The economically active population (labour force) comprises employed and unemployed persons.

Duration of unemployment is the duration of the search for employment or the length of the period since leaving least job; whichever period is shorter.

Long-term unemployed persons are persons who have been unemployed for one year or more.

Employment/activity rates represent employed/active persons as a percentage of same age total population.

Part-time employment rates represent persons employed on a part-time basis as a percentage of the same age population.

Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the active population.

Self-employed persons are the ones who work in their own business, farm or professional practice. A self-employed person is considered to be working if she/he meets one of the following criteria: works for the purpose of earning profit, spends time on the operation of a business or is in the process of setting up his/her business.

Employees are defined as persons who work for a public or private employer and who receive compensation in the form of wages, salaries, payment by results or payment in kind; non-conscript members of the armed forces are also included.

Employees with temporary contracts are those who declare themselves as having a fixed term employment contract or a job which will terminate if certain objective criteria are met, such as completion of an assignment or return of the employee who was temporarily replaced.

Full-time/part-time distinction in the main job is made on the basis of a spontaneous answer given by the respondent in all countries, except for the Netherlands and Iceland, where part-time is determined on the basis of whether the usual hours worked are fewer than 35, while full-time on the basis of whether the usual hours worked are 35 or more, Sweden where this criterion is applied to the self-employed persons as well and Norway where persons working between 32 and 36 hours are asked whether this is a full- or part-time position.

Involuntary part-time employment. Persons working on an involuntary part-time basis are those who declare that they work part-time because they are unable to find full-time work.

Population in employment having a second job refers only to persons with more than one job at the same time. Consequently, persons having changed job during the reference week are not covered.

Saturday and Sunday working. This concept should be interpreted strictly on the basis of formal agreements concluded with the employer. Employees taking office work home and/or occasionally working at the workplace on Saturdays or Sundays are not included. Working on Saturdays (or Sundays), in this context, means having worked two or more Saturdays (or Sundays) during a four-week reference period before the interview.

Shift work. Shift work is a regular work schedule, during which an enterprise is operational or provides services beyond the normal working hours (weekdays 8 am to 6 pm; evening closing hours might be later in the case of a longer noon break), and where different crews of workers succeed each other at the same work site to perform the same operations. Shift work usually involves work in the early morning, at night or at the weekend; the weekly rest days might not coincide with the normal rest days.

Night work. Work done during usual sleeping hours and implying unusual sleeping times. The indicator covers work during the night for at least 50% of the days on which the person worked, during a four-week reference period before the survey interview.

Number of hours actually/usually worked in the main /second job during the reference week
The number of hours actually/usually worked during the reference week includes all hours including extra hours, either paid or unpaid, but excludes the travel time between home and the place of work as well as the main meal breaks (normally taken at midday). Persons who have also worked at home during the reference period are asked to include the number of hours they have worked at home. Apprentices, trainees and other persons in vocational training are asked to exclude the time spent in school or other special training centres.

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 the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Methodology.

Please note that the EU-LFS covers the resident population, so that the figures reported for a country include residents working abroad and excludes foreign residents working in the country. This can make a sizeable difference in particular in small countries with relatively many cross-border workers, such as Luxembourg.

3.7. Reference area

European Union, Euro area, the 28 EU-Member States, three EFTA countries (except for Liechtenstein), and three acceding and candidate countries, i.e. Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. Data for Cyprus refer only to the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Since 2014, data for France include also the French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, La Réunion), with the exception of Mayotte.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Data are available from 1983 onwards for the annual series.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top

Most results measure number of persons (thousands). Some indicators are reported as rates (employment, unemployment rates). Some variables are reported in other units (ages in years, working time in hours, etc.).

5. Reference Period Top

The EU-LFS is designed as a continuous quarterly survey with interviews spread uniformly over all weeks of a quarter. The reference week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. By convention, the first week of the year is the week including the first Thursday, and the 1st reference quarter consists of 13 consecutive weeks starting from that week. Therefore reference quarter corresponds to the calendar quarter. Built in this way, the quarterly sample is spread uniformly over all weeks of the quarter.

Annual data encompass the four reference quarters in the year.

Before early 2000s the EU-LFS was conducted annually in spring, rather than quarterly. Spring was considered a period representative of the labour situation in the whole year. The changeover from an annual survey to a continuous, quarterly survey took place between 1998 and 2004, depending on the Member State. For more information on the transition to a quarterly continuous survey, please consult the EU-LFS (Statistics Explained) - Development and history.

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

The EU-LFS is based on European legislation since 1973. It's 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.

For more information on publications guidelines and thresholds, please consult: EU-LFS - Data and publications.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

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

8.2. Release calendar access

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

8.3. Release policy - user access

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

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


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


10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

For more informationon data and publications, please consult: EU-LFS - Data and publications.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line in Eurobase or refer to ESTAT-LFS-USER-SUPPORT@ec.europa.eu

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

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

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 10.6.

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

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

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

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

12.3. Completeness

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

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

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

There are two ways of calculating LFS annual results (see section 18.5 for details)

1) Annual averages are published along with quarter 4 data, i.e. approximately 14 weeks after the end of the year. A common Council regulation ((EC) No 577/98) establishes the timeliness of data transmissions from the National Statistical Institutes to the Member States to Eurostat. This timeliness is 12 weeks after the end of the reference period, and it determines the release of data to users. The timeliness of quarterly data release to users is approximately 14 weeks after the end of reference quarter.

2) Other annual results which require further processing are published around 6 months after the end of the year.

14.2. Punctuality

For 2015 throughout all EU-LFS countries data were transmitted to Eurostat within an average of 80 calendar days.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

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

15.2. Comparability - over time

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

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

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

15.4. Coherence - internal

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

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Revisions of previously released data are not expected, unless major errors are identified in the data delivered or in their processing. Exceptional revisions may happen e.g. after new estimates of population from a population census.

17.2. Data revision - practice

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

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

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

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Since early 2000's, the survey has quarterly periodicity, previously it was an annual survey run in spring. Since the survey became quarterly, it includes both quarterly variables and annual variables (i.e. collected only once a year).

18.3. Data collection

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

18.4. Data validation

Prior to the dissemination of the national data, Eurostat checks the data quality and consistency. Eurostat calculates LFS results and they are then validated by the Member States. Afterwards they can be published.

18.5. Data compilation

For each Member State and period, there are two ways of calculating LFS annual data:

1) Variables collected every quarter lead to quarterly results which can be averaged through the year, hence producing so-called 'annual average results'.

2) Variables collected only yearly lead directly to so-called 'annual results'. 

Due to different weighting scheme used for annual and quarterly results, annual averages and annual results might slightly differ. Annual average results are preferable because they have  smaller (or exceptionally the same) sampling errors. Therefore, Eurostat publishes annual average results whenever possible, as follows: annual tables consisting exclusively of quarterly variables are always published as annual averages; annual tables consisting of a combination of annual and quarterly variables are always published as annual results. 

EU and Euro area aggregates are calculated aggregating totals from Member States. For the data expressed in absolute values for each quarter (i.e. number of persons) no weighting is used. Rates/Ratios are subsequently calculated from the data expressed in absolute values (i.e. number of persons).

18.6. Adjustment

No adjustments are made to the EU-LFS data. Please note that Eurostat also publishes LFS adjusted series under the collection 'LFS main indicators'.

19. Comment Top

No notes.

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

Annexes Top
EU-LFS (Satistics Explained) webpage (additional metadata information)