Development of the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS)

1960 saw the first attempt to use a labour force survey to collect comparable data on employment and unemployment from the six original Member States of the then European Community. Since then, the number of Member States has risen to twenty-eight and the character of the European labour market has been transformed by changes say, in the allocation of working-time or in the distribution of employment across the various sectors of the economy.

In consequence, the demand for accurate and comparable information on the labour market has grown steadily.  The EU-LFS has become more harmonised across countries and was transformed into a continuous survey, which means collecting data covering all weeks in the year to enable seasonal effects to be monitored and yearly averages estimated.

Through these developments the EU-LFS has gained steadily in importance and is now universally recognised as an indispensable tool for observing labour market developments and for taking the appropriate policy measures.

The most important developments of the EU-LFS are listed below:

Most important developments of the EU-LFS

Year Stages
1960 First EU-LFS organised by Eurostat in the six original Member States.
1968-1971 Annual surveys
1973-1981 Biennial surveys
1983-1991 Annual surveys on the basis of a revised set of concepts designed to improve the comparability between the Member States. The concepts and definitions used were those adopted by the 13th International Conference of Labour Statisticians of 1982.
1992-1997 Regulation 3711/1991 leads to a further improvement in the quality of the EU-LFS.
1995 EU-LFS covers 15 Member States.
1998-2000 Regulation 577/1998 set the regulatory framework and the cornerstone for today's EU-LFS by introducing a continuous survey and adapting the output harmonisation approach. Ad-hoc modules also introduced.
2000 EU-LFS covers 27 Member States.
2005 Quarterly, continuous survey in 27 Member States.
2006 'Structural variables' introduced (Regulation 430/2005). These variables need to be surveyed only annually rather than quarterly.
2007 Quarterly, continuous survey in 28 Member States.


For more information on the development and history of the EU-LFS, please see: EU Labour Force Survey – development and history (Statistics Explained).