European Union Labour Force Survey - Access to microdata

European Union Labour Force Survey (EU LFS)

Information on data details relevant for research project proposals:

AGE: by 5-year bands
NATIONALITY/COUNTRY OF BIRTH: up to 15 predefined groups
NACE: at 1-digit level
ISCO: at 3-digit level
INCOME: only provided as (national) deciles and from 2009; no real figures available
Region: NUTS2
HHNUM: household numbers are randomised per dataset, unable to track respondents across time

Description of the dataset

The EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) is conducted in all EU Member States of the European Union, 4 EU candidate countries and 3 European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries. EU-LFS microdata for scientific purposes currently contain data for all Member States, as well as data for Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

EU-LFS is a large household sample survey providing quarterly results on labour participation of people aged 15 and over as well as on people outside the labour force. All definitions apply to persons aged 15 years and over living in private households. Those doing military or community service are not included in the survey, as is also the case for those in institutions/collective households.

Data collection covers data from 1983 onwards. In general, data for individual countries are available depending on when they joined the EU.  The national statistical institutes across Europe conduct the surveys and are responsible for selecting the sample, preparing the questionnaires, conducting the direct interviews among households, and forwarding the results to Eurostat. Eurostat can then make available data that are comparable across countries and over time at European level:

  • using the same concepts and definitions
  • following International Labour Organisation guidelines
  • using common classifications (NACE, ISCO, ISCED, NUTS)
  • recording the same set of characteristics in each country.

In 2018, the quarterly LFS sample size across the Europe was around 1.5 million individuals. EU-LFS covers all industries and occupations.

LFS microdata including the years 1983-2019 became available in September 2020. For full details on the anonymised LFS microdata:

LFS-based data

A significant amount of data from EU-LFS is available in Eurostat's online database, which is regularly updated and available free of charge. EU-LFS is the main data source for "Employment and unemployment" domain in the database. This domain includes tables on population, employment, working time, job permanency, professional status etc. The data are broken down by age, sex, education level, economic activity and occupation where applicable.

Several elements of indicator sets for policy monitoring are also derived from EU-LFS and freely available in the online database. EU-LFS data therefore contribute to the Europe 2020 headline indicators, the UN's sustainable development goals, European and national indicators / principal european economic indicators, the macroeconomic imbalance procedure and other policy-related indicators.

LFS microdata releases with digital object identifier (DOI) number