Statistics Explained

EU labour force survey - documentation

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Highlights


This article provides useful documentation on the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), and especially in relation to its methodology. It gives detailed information on the classifications used in the EU-LFS. It also refers to the explanatory notes and user guide describing the variables, and to the national questionnaires used to collect the data. Access to the material relevant for each EU-LFS data collection year is included.

This article is part of a set of online articles on the EU-LFS.


Full article


Classifications

The EU-LFS uses international classifications and nomenclatures for the country, region, degree of urbanisation, education, occupation, economic activity, professional status and the European Socio-economic Group (ESeG).

Actual coding in the EU-LFS may deviate to some extent from those general standards. For more details on the deviations, see the section hereafter related to the explanatory notes and user guide.

Countries

Country codes are based on the ISO 3166 (International Organisation of Standardisation – alpha-2 format), with the main exception of Greece which is coded as EL. For more details on the countries classification, please consult the country codes, and for more information on the codification of EU-LFS variables over time, please consult the section coding lists and classifications used over time. Below, country codes and their validity are reported:

Regions

The EU-LFS uses the Eurostat Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics (NUTS) to code regions. For more details on the classification of regions, please consult the page Eurostat-Metadata (NUTS), and for more information on the codification of EU-LFS variables over time, please consult the section coding lists and classifications used over time. Below classifications of regions over time and their validity are reported:

Please note that due to back data revisions and adaptations to NUTS updates, available codes in the data can differ from the original coding (currently used NUTS codes by country - Excel file).

Degree of urbanisation

The EU-LFS also uses a classification of degree of urbanisation. This classification maps geographical areas into three categories 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 several times, most recently in 2012.

Education

The International standard classification of education (ISCED) developed by UNESCO is used to measure the level and the field of completed and current education. The classification was last revised in 2011.

For the educational level attained, the EU-LFS uses the revised classification ISCED 2011 since 2014. The ISCED 1997 was used from 1998 until 2013. For more details on the ISCED classification, please consult: UNESCO (ISCED), and for an explanation of the changes, please consult: Comparability between ISCED 2011 and ISCED 1997.

For the fields of education and training, the classification according to ISCED 1997 was used up to 2015; detailed field descriptions are available in the 1999 manual on fields of education and training. The ISCED-F 2013 classification of fields of education and training is in use since 2016, replacing the former ISCED 1997 codes.

For more detailed information on the codification of EU-LFS variables using ISCED 2011 and ISCED 1997 over time, the comparability with the codification before 1998, and the ISCED-F 2013 codes, please consult the sections explanatory notes and user guide and coding lists and classifications used over time. For a complete overview see the ISCED glossary page.

The Classification of learning activities (CLA, 2016 edition) is used for measuring participation in formal and non-formal education and training in the EU-LFS. The CLA (2016 edition) is aligned with ISCED 2011. The CLA provides a set of definitions and criteria to ensure international comparability of statistics on learning activities. According to the CLA, learning activities can be classified in three broad categories:

  • Formal education
  • Non-formal education and training
  • Informal learning.

Occupation

The International standard classification of occupations (ISCO) developed by the International Labour Organisation is used to measure the occupational status of employed persons. The classification was last revised in 2008 (ISCO-08). The EU-LFS uses the revised classification (ISCO-08) since 2011; ISCO-88 (COM) was used until 2010. For more details on the classification of occupations, please consult: Eurostat-Metadata (ISCO) and for an explanation of the changes: Comparability between ISCO-08 and ISCO-88.

The EU-LFS uses ISCO at 4 digit level for the current main job and at 3 digit level for the last job. For more information on the codification of the EU-LFS variables using ISCO, please consult the sections explanatory notes and user guide and coding lists and classifications used over time.

Economic activity

The EU-LFS uses the Eurostat Statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE) to code the economic activity. Over time, the EU-LFS used NACE 1970 until 1992, NACE Rev. 1 from 1993 to 2004, NACE Rev. 1.1 from 2005 to 2007, NACE Rev. 2 from 2008. For more details on the classification of economic activities, please consult: Eurostat-Metadata (NACE).

The EU-LFS uses NACE at 3 digit level for the current main job and on 2 digit level for both the second job and the last job. For more information on the codification of the EU-LFS variables using NACE, please consult the sections explanatory notes and user guide and coding lists and classifications used over time.

Professional status

The International Classification of Status in Employment (ICSE) developed by the International Labour Organisation is used to measure the professional status of employed persons. For more details, please consult: ILO Guidelines on ICSE.

European Socio-economic Groups (ESeG)

ESeG is a derived classification which allows the grouping of individuals with similar economic, social and cultural characteristics throughout the European Union, based only on core social variables to ensure comfortable use in all social surveys providing comparable results. The main core social variables used are "ILO working status", “Status in employment”, “Occupation in employment” (according to ISCO-08) and “Self-declared labour status”. For the detailed classification and explanatory notes, please consult the EseG page on the Eurostat classification server RAMON.

Explanatory notes and user guide for the core variables

Reference material on the EU-LFS mainly consists of two parts: the 'EU-LFS explanatory notes' and the 'EU-LFS user guide'. The first one is mainly addressed to data producers and the second one to data users.

EU-LFS explanatory notes

The explanatory notes provide detailed information on the surveyed variables of the EU-LFS. For each variable, it informs the readers about its periodicity, purpose and definition. Short description and implementation rules are also presented by variable:

  • The version of the explanatory notes in line with the regulations in force from 1 January 2021 can be found here.
  • The latest version of the explanatory notes in line with the previous regulations (in force until 31 December 2020) can be found here.

In addition, transcoding tables allowing to recode the EU-LFS variables defined in the previous regulations into the EU-LFS variables defined within the regulations in force from 1 January 2021, have been developed are are available here.

EU-LFS user guide

The user guide aims to assist users of EU-LFS data in defining their requests and analysing the received data. This manual is addressed to users of tailor-made extractions and/or anonymised microdata. It presents the structure of the EU-LFS, the available variables (directly surveyed or derived), and the rules for dissemination. The document provides an overview of the variables available in the EU-LFS data sets and presents details on their codification. It gives information on coding principles for core variables, on derivation of further variables for standard labour market analyses, and also on variables from modules. Moreover, it describes the classifications, addresses the general structure of the EU-LFS database, and deals with the anonymisation criteria used for anonymised microdata:

  • The version of the user guide in line with the regulations in force from 1 January 2021 can be found here and its annexes here.
  • The latest version of the user guide in line with the previous regulations (in force until 31 December 2020) can be found here.

Coding lists, explanatory notes and classifications used over time

An overview of present and past coding lists, explanatory notes and classifications is given in the following table.

Years General Coding List Explanatory notes Country coding NACE ISCO NUTS* ISCED
2021 - from 2021 from 2021 from 2021 previous previous from 2021 previous
2020 - previous previous from 2020 previous previous previous previous
2019 - previous previous previous previous previous previous previous
2018 - previous previous previous previous previous from 2018 previous
2017 - previous from 2017 previous previous previous previous previous
2016 - previous from 2016 previous previous previous previous previous
2015 - previous previous previous previous previous from 2015 previous
2014 - General:
previous
Education:
from 2014
from 2014 previous previous previous previous Measurement guidelines and annex

Eurobase implement. ISCED97_11

2013 - previous previous previous previous previous previous previous
2012 - previous from 2012 from 2012 previous previous from 2012 previous
2011 - previous from 2011 from 2011 previous from 2011
(ISCO-08)
previous previous
2010 - previous previous from 2010 previous previous previous previous
2009 - from 2009 previous from 2009 previous previous previous previous
2008 - from 2008 from 2008 previous from 2008 previous previous previous
2007 - previous previous from 2007 previous previous from 2007 previous
2006 - from 2006 from 2006 from 2006 previous previous previous previous
2005 - previous previous previous from 2005 from 2005
(ISCO-88 COM)
from 2005 previous
2004 previous previous previous from 2004 - - from 2004 previous
2003 previous from 2003 from 2003 - - - - previous
2002 previous - - - - - - previous
2001 Methods and Definitions - - - - - - EU-LFS ISCED 1997
LFS education codification

ISCED manual
Fields of education and training


An entry "previous" means that the information in the document for the previous year is also valid for the year in question.

* The years in the column "NUTS" indicate the initial first year of reporting according to a new version of the classification. For instance, "from 2015" refers to NUTS 2013, according to which data were first reported in 2015. However, the countries affected by changes have afterwards reported data also on previous years according to NUTS 2013, in this case covering 2010 to 2014. In addition, a new NUTS version usually affects only a few countries at NUTS 2 level. This means in practice that it is valid for an even longer time series in the unaffected countries. As a result, the latest NUTS version always covers time series of different length by country. The detail on the validity of the NUTS versions is documented in an Excel file.

The document "Methods and Definitions 2001" contains the relevant information for all individual topics in 2001 and 2002; from 2003 onwards the information was updated in separate documents, so that since 2005 individual documents for all six coding topics exist.

For methods and definitions prior to 2001 please see the list below. The table gives an overview of publications in the past, including a description for Candidate countries in 2002.

Methods and Definitions Comments
Methods and Definitions (Candidate countries) - 2002 Description of the national survey in the 13 Candidate countries 2002
Methods and Definitions - 1998 Description of the continuous survey 1998-2000
Methods and Definitions - 1996 Description of the continuous survey 1992-1997 (similar as 1992 publication, but including AT, FI and SE)
Methods and Definitions - 1992 Description of the continuous survey 1992-1997
Methods and Definitions - 1988 Description of the annual survey 1983-1991 (similar as 1985 publication, but including ES and PT)
Methods and Definitions - 1985 Description of the annual survey 1983-1991
Methods and Definitions - 1977 Description of the annual survey 1973-1981

No electronic documentation is available for 1977 and 1985.

Core questionnaires

The national questionnaires used by the countries to collect the EU-LFS data, as well as specific instructions and other documents for the data collection, are available for each year from 2005 onwards.

The information can be downloaded as a ZIP file by clicking on the year. The ZIP files contain the country questionnaires in the national language(s) and English (if available), with the instructions (if available), for the participating countries.

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