Unemployment by sex and age – monthly data (une_rt_m)

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 and Lefelong Learning

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 15/06/2021
2.2. Metadata last posted 15/06/2021
2.3. Metadata last update 15/06/2021

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

'Unemployment by sex and age - monthly data' is a dataset with series on a monthly basis which is, where necessary, adjusted and enriched in various ways, in accordance with the specificities of the indicator. The monthly unemployment indicator is calculated with special methods and periodicity which justify the present page.

Quarterly and annual unemployment is published in the section 'LFS main indicators', which is a collection of the main statistics on the labour market. 

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'. 

3.2. Classification system

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 2019/2240.

The relevant definitions are as follows:

Unemployed persons are all persons 15 to 74 years of age 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 choosing the unit "PC_ACT", Percentage of Active Population.

The active population (labour force) is defined as the sum of employed and unemployed persons.

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 include the overseas departments (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 start from 1983 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. 

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 Regulation (EU) 2019/1700. The implementation rules are specified in the successive Commission regulations, in particular Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/2241. 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

Not applicable.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Monthly unemployment data is bound by a release calendar.

8.2. Release calendar access

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

Please also consult the yearly calendar under Euro indicators - Eurostat (europa.eu)


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 monthly 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


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 https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

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

10.6. Documentation on methodology

The EU-LFS disseminates 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; 

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

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. 

12.3. Completeness

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.

13.2. Sampling error

Not available on monthly basis.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not available on monthly basis.

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. 

14.2. Punctuality

Not available.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The LFS results for the monthly calculations are complemented with the DOM data (départements d'outre-mer).

15.2. Comparability - over time

In the monthly dataset, 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.

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. 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 makes 12 times a year for monthly 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 are reviewed every time new EU-LFS quarterly data becomes available.

Seasonal adjustment models were reviewed annually before the Corona Crisis.

During the years 2020 and 2021, the seasonal coefficients of 2019 have been applied due uncertainties in the seasonal figure caused by the Corona crisis.

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. Please consult the section ‘Revisions and Timetable’ of the news release article.

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

The EU-LFS is the main data source.

There are legislative acts of the European Council and Parliament and of the European Commission that govern the EU-LFS (see section 6 ‘Institutional Mandate’ as well as the related metadata "employ_esms" at the bottom of the page) and result in the production of monthly and quarterly  - or only quarterly - labour force statistics.


For the cases where only quarterly statistics is produced, 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. The results of the complementary calculations yield the monthly unemployment data. 


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


18.3. Data collection

EU-LFS data are acquired by interviewing the sampled individuals directly. 

For more information please consult the corresponding LFS quality reports.

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

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

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). 

18.5. Data compilation

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, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Turkey

Monthly estimates are available directly from the LFS.  For Germany, the Netherlands and Iceland, trend data instead of seasonally adjusted data is published due to the high volatility of the series. For Finland and Sweden trend data is the headline monthly indicator, while seasonally adjusted data are also available in the online dataset. For Romania, only quarterly LFS figures for youth unemployment are published. For Turkey the age breakdown 25-74 is to be interpreted as 25+ due to the national methodology.

Denmark, Estonia and Portugal

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


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.


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

Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain, France, Cyprus, Poland 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 introduced a panel design in Q1 2017. 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 a linear proportional disaggregation. No data are disseminated for the most recent months (for which the LFS data are not yet available).

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

18.6. Adjustment

Where available, LFS series adjusted for breaks are used in the production for the monthly unemployment series.

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-13 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)
lfsi_esms - LFS main indicators

Annexes Top
Technical details unemployment calculations
Long-term unemployment rate