LFS main indicators (lfsi)

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

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1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Unit F3: Labour market

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG


2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 23/01/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 21/04/2020
2.3. Metadata last update 08/07/2020


3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The 'LFS main indicators' section presents a selection of the main statistics on the labour market. They encompass indicators of activity, employment and unemployment. Those indicators are based on the results of the European Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), in few cases integrated with data sources like national accounts employment or registered unemployment. As a result of the application of adjustments, corrections and reconciliation of EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) data, the 'LFS main indicators' is the most complete and reliable collection of employment and unemployment data available in the sub-domain 'Employment and unemployment'.

The EU-LFS data used for 'LFS main indicators' are, where necessary, adjusted and enriched in various ways, in accordance with the specificities of an indicator. The most common adjustments cover:

  • estimation of missing values, i.e. in case of missing quarters, annual results and EU aggregates are estimated using interpolations of EU Labour Force Survey data with reference to the available quarter(s).
  • for all quarterly indicators seasonally adjusted data are available.
  • correction of the main breaks in the LFS series.

Those adjustments may produce some differences between data published under 'LFS main indicators' and 'LFS series – detailed quarterly/annual survey results', particularly for back data. For the most recent years, the different series converge, due to the implementation of a continuous quarterly survey and the improved quality of the data.

This page focuses on the 'LFS main indicators' in general. There are special pages for indicators that are listed below:

Quarterly and annual unemployment figures are derived in line with all other LFS Main Indciators, and no longer aggregated from monthly unemployment series.

  • Duration of working life - annual data: lfsi_dwl_a
  • Population in jobless households - annual data: lfsi_jhh_a
  • Labour market transitions - LFS longitudinal data: lfsi_long

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 'LFS main indicators' are produced in accordance with the relevant international classification systems. The main classifications used are ISCED 1997 and ISCED 2011 (from 2014) for educational attainment.

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.

3.3. Coverage - sector

As a general rule the EU-LFS covers all economic sectors.

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 (ILO). The precise definition of unemployment is given in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1897/2000. The main concepts and indicators related to the labour status are the following: 

  • 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. The employment rate is the percentage of employed persons in relation to the total population.
  • 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 available to begin working immediately or within two weeks.
  • 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).
    • The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed persons as a percentage of the active population (labour force). The labour force is the total number of people employed and unemployed.
    • The unemployment ratio is the number of unemployed persons as a percentage of the total population.
    • The long term unemployment rate is the share of persons unemployed for 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 persons unemployed for 12 months or more in the total number of unemployed.
    • Very long term unemployment rate is the share of the persons unemployed for 24 months or more in the total number of active persons in the labour market.
  • The active population (labour force) is defined as the sum of employed and unemployed persons. The activity rate is the percentage of active persons in relation to the total population.
  • The inactive population consists of all persons who are classified neither as employed nor as unemployed.

 Relevant breakdowns used are the following:

  • Part-time workers are employed persons not working full time. The distinction between full-time and part-time work is generally based on a spontaneous response by the respondent. The main exceptions are the Netherlands and Iceland where a 35 hours threshold is applied, Sweden where a threshold is applied to the self-employed, and Norway where persons working between 32 and 36 hours are asked whether this is a full- or part-time position.
  • Temporary contracts: employees with a limited duration job/contract are employees whose main job will terminate either after a period fixed in advance, or after a period not known in advance, but nevertheless defined by objective criteria, such as the completion of an assignment or the period of absence of an employee temporarily replaced. The concept of fixed-term contract is only applicable to employees, not to self-employed.
  • The educational attainment level of an individual is the highest ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) level successfully completed, the successful completion of an education programme being validated by a recognised qualification, i.e. a qualification officially recognised by the relevant national education authorities or recognised as equivalent to another qualification of formal education. The ISCED levels are divided into ISCED 0-2 (less than primary, primary and lower secondary education), ISCED3+4 (upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education), and ICED5+ (tertiary education).  
  • NEET – young people neither in employment nor in education and training corresponds to the percentage of the population of a given age group and sex who is not employed and not involved in further (formal or non-formal) education or training. The numerator of the indicator refers to persons who meet the following two conditions: (a) they are not employed (i.e. unemployed or inactive according to the International Labour Organisation definition) and (b) they have not received any education or training (i.e. neither formal nor non-formal) in the four weeks preceding the survey. The denominator in the total population consists of the same age group and sex. LFS adjusted series for NEET are provided for the age group 15 to 24. Further information on the NEET can be found here.

 The indicators to supplement the unemployment rate are defined as follows:

  • 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 within a period of at most 3 months and are not available for work in the next 2 weeks’; or (c) found a job to start in more than 3 months; 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.

Persons, who fall within the three categories above, fall outside the bandwith of unemployment as persons are either employed with insufficient working time, immediately inavailable, or not seeking a job in a very specific time period. However, these persons may have an unmet need for employment and could represent a potential ‘extended labour force’:

  • Labour Market Slack: the total sum of all unmet need for employment, including unemployment according to the ILO definition as well as the three supplementary indicators. In order to allow comparisons between these four groups, which do not all belong to the labour force, the concept of the “extended labour force” is used. It includes unemployment, employment and the two categories of inactive persons, those available but not seeking, and those seeking but not available. The total labour market slack is expressed in percent of this extended labour force, and the relative sizes of each component of labour market slack can be compared by using this denominator.

Following developments on the labour market due COVID-19 measure in the first quarter 2020, additional indicators were introduced:

  • Absences from work: persons absent from work are considered as employed if there is a formal attachment to the job. This can be for example the continued receipt of wage or salary, AND an assurance of a return to work (or an agreement as to the date of return) following the end of the contingency.Persons can be absent from work due to a number of reasons, among which holidays, own illness, and temporary lay-offs. Lay-offs are classified as employed if they have an assurance of return to work within a period of 3 months or receive at least 50% of their wage or salary from their employer.
  • Weekly absences from work are available for total absences only, and are experimental statistics.
  • Total actual hours worked in the main job are the total actual hours worked by all employees and self-employed in their main occupation during the quarter. Data are indexed to be equal to 100 in 2006 for reasons of comparability between countries.
  • Recent job leavers are those persons who report to have left their job in the last 3 months before the interview
  • Recent job starters are those persons who have started their employment in the last 3 months before the interview.
  • Actual monthly sample size shows the number of interviews collected for each reference month.

Please note that the EU aggregates in these new tables are directly seasonally adjusted.

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

3.5. Statistical unit

Persons

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. In the EFTA countries participating in LFS, i.e. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, population data are not provided for the age-groups outside the scope of labour market questions. The EU-LFS covers all industries and occupations.

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), USA and Japan. Data for Cyprus refer only to the areas of Cyprus controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Since 2003, data for France include also the French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, La Réunion), with the exception of Mayotte. Monthly unemployment data refer to France including also the French overseas departments before 2014; for all other indicators either two series for France are available (France including overseas departments indicated by country code FR and metropolitan France indicated by country code FX) or data are flagged accordingly (further information can be found under the related metadata page employ_esms). EU and EA aggregates include metropolitan France. Employment data for USA and Japan are also disseminated for specific breakdowns.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Available data ranges differ by country and indicator. Data for all Member States are mostly available from 1998 onwards. Data relating to the former EU-15 are available from 1992 onwards.

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) or ratios (share of total population). Rates and ratios in the LFS Main Indicators do not correct the denominator for item non-response due to the additional seasonal adjustment step. This can lead to marginal differences in rates and ratios due to rounding in comparison with the same indicators published in the detailed tables section.


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

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

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

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

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


8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The domain 'LFS main indicators' are bound by a release calendar. For further details, please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

8.2. Release calendar access

For the domain 'LFS main indicators', the precise date of data release is disseminated on Eurostat's website. For further details, please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

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 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) under embargo the evening before official release of data. For further details, please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').


9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Quarterly and Annual.


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

Releases of quarterly and annual LFS main indicators follow the LFS Main Indicators release calendar (see here). Please refer to the ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)’ for further details (see link below in section 'related metadata').

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

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

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data on-line or address 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

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 the 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

The 'LFS main indicators' stemming from the EU-LFS are used for monitoring and measurement of core employment policy objectives of the EU:

  • Macroeceonomic Imbalance Procedure Indicators.
  • Europe 2020 Indicators.
  • Sustainable Development Indicators.
  • Employment and Social Policy Indicators.
  • European Pillar of Social Rights.
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

The quarterly series are updated 4 times a year approximately 150 days after the end of the reference quarter. Annual averages are published along with quarter 4 data. Some indicators, like 'population in jobless households', may exceptionally have different publication dates.

14.2. Punctuality

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


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

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).

Overall, comparability over time is considered as high. Methodological improvements in the underlying sampling design or changes in nomenclatura can lead to breaks in the time series. These are flagged in the database, and detailed information on each break can be found here. For some series, in particular employment and activity, estimates have been made for years in which not yet data for all quarters had been collected. These estimates are flagged accordingly. The estimates do not make use of other indicators, but are based on available quarterly data as well as the seasonal pattern of available years.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

The ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' provides general explanations of coherence between EU-LFS, population statistics, national accounts employment and business surveys employment (see link below in section 'related metadata').

15.4. Coherence - internal

'LFS main indicators' estimates have full internal coherence, as they are all based on the same corpus of microdata and they calculated using the same estimation methods. Arithmetic and accounting identities in the production of LFS datasets are observed.

Annual results are calculated as average of quarterly results, and they are hence fully consistent.

To further improve internal coherence of the ‘LFS main indicators’, Eurostat disseminates quarterly and annual unemployment figures directly derived from the LFS microdata from April 2020 on. Figures are no longer aggregated from monthly unemployment figures, which remain unchanged.


16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.


17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

Revisions of previously released non-seasonally adjusted data based on EU-LFS are not expected, unless major errors are identified in the data delivered or in their processing. Exceptional revisions to back series may happen e.g. after new estimates of population from a population census, or corrections due to break corrections. Revisions of seasonally adjusted data may occur due to changes in the adjustment models used. 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. 

In general, data is revised 4 times a year for quarterly and annual data. Parameters used in the ARIMA models and for seasonal adjustment are reviewed annually.

17.2. Data revision - practice

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

Revisions of seasonally adjusted data can occur once a year with the identification of new seasonal adjustment models, following the guidelines on seasonal adjustment.


18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The quarterly EU-LFS is the main source of the data, for details see ESMS page on 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

In case of missing quarterly data, annual results and EU aggregates are estimated by using adjusted quarterly national labour force survey data or interpolations of the EU Labour Force Survey data with reference to the available quarter(s). 

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 obtains those data via OECD and disseminates them without any processing.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

For EU-LFS: quarterly and annual.

18.3. Data collection

See ESMS page 'Employment and unemployment (LFS)' (see link below in section 'related metadata').

18.4. Data validation

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

18.5. Data compilation

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

Annual results are derived from the populations obtained at the annual level. Annual averages of the quarterly data are produced as simple averages of the quarterly populations.

For the period when the survey was run annually in spring, annual averages were calculated as follows: first, the spring quarter was used in combination with a simple regression model to estimate the missing quarters; then the annual averages were calculated from these quarterly estimates.

Interpolations for quarterly missing country data are flagged accordingly and published, and used for the compilation of annual averages and European aggregates.

Seasonal adjustment is performed indirectly, i.e. on the lowest available breakdown, and higher aggregates are derived from these series. This also applies to EU and EA aggregates. Models are estimated once a year, while parameters are re-estimated with the inclusion of each quarterly data point. 

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


19. Comment Top

Germany: due to technical issues with the introduction of the new German system of integrated household surveys, including the LFS, the figures for Germany for the first quarter 2020 are not direct estimates from LFS microdata, but based on a larger sample including additional data from other integrated household surveys.

 

Underemployed part-time workers is published in thousand persons, as % of the labour force aged 15-74 (also called % of active population), as % population 15-74 and as % employment 15-74. Data are not published, in particular, as % economically inactive population. An attempt to extract those data will deliver empty cells.

Persons seeking work but not immediately available is published in thousand persons, as % of the labour force aged 15-74 (also called % of active population), as % population 15-74 and as % economically inactive population. Data are not published, in particular, as % employment 15-74.

Persons available to work but not seeking is published in thousand persons, as % of the labour force aged 15-74 (also called % of active population), as % population 15-74 and as % economically inactive population. Data are not published, in particular, as % employment 15-74.


Related metadata Top
employ_esms - Employment and unemployment (Labour force survey)
lfsi_dwl_a_esms - Duration of working life - annual data
lfsi_jhh_a_esms - Population in jobless households - annual data
lfsi_long_esms - Labour market transitions - LFS longitudinal data
une_rt_m_esms - Unemployment by sex and age – monthly data


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