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EU-Labour Force Survey


Data description

EurostatThe European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) is a cross-sectional and longitudinal household sample survey, collated by Eurostat from data provided by the EU member states, three EFTA countries and three EU-candidate countries. The database provides observations on labour market participation and persons outside the labour force. Details of access (EUI members only) are given below. Core data coverage is from 1983 to 2019 (update October 2020).

The information on this page pertains to the restricted-access EU-LFS micro dataset. Aggregate employment data can be downloaded from the Eurostat portal at Population and Social Conditions > Labour Market.

European national statistical agencies are responsible for selecting EU-LFS samples, preparing questionnaires, conducting household interviews and forwarding results to Eurostat in accordance with a common coding scheme:

  • Uniform concepts and definitions
  • International Labour Organisation compliant
  • Common classifications: NACE, ISCO, ISCED, NUTS
  • Same set of characteristics for each country.

Definitions apply to persons living in private households aged 15 or above, except those undertaking military service. Wage data is not included in EU-LFS, and should not be listed as a variable in data access applications (see access procedures below).

Documention in the EU-LFS folder contains:

  • The EU-LFS User Guide
  • A list of data revisions to previous EU-LFS data waves
  • A list of all datasets (.csv); standard quarterly and yearly data files; special files with household data, and; ad hoc module files.

Eurostat and the Collaboration in Research and Methodology for Official Statistics (CROS) maintain public use files (PUFs) for the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) and EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC).


Time period
  • Data updated: October, 2020
  • Core data: 1983-2019
  • Ad hoc modules: Wave 1999; and Waves 2002 to 2019.


Support links


How to access data

Current EUI members can apply for access to EU-LFS micro data by following the instructions below. The Eurostat application process can take up to two months, due to clearing procedures with EU member state statistical agencies. The EUI is a Eurostat-recognised research entity.

  • Complete the Library's Micro Data Registration Form (selecting 'EU-LFS' in the dropdown menu)
  • The EUI researcher - or Principal Investigator (or delegate in a research team) - must create an EU Login to apply for Eurostat micro data access
  • Special note: Eurostat informs that for EUI researchers - it is necessary to use a non-institutional (non-EUI) personal email account for the creation of the EU Login. (It is not necessary for all members of a research team to create an EU login - only the person submitting the application)
  • Project applications are made using the online Microdata Access Workflow Tool
  • Before completing the application, consult the Eurostat EU Labour Force Survey resource page for details of EU-LFS variables, reference years and population
  • The 'Principal Researcher' is normally a Professor or Post-doctoral fellow
  • The EUI Data Manager is Thomas Bourke
  • Write to [email protected] for (i) the Research Entity ID number and (ii) the description of the EUI's secure data environment
  • The names and EUI email contact details of all researchers on the project must be included in the form 
  • The applicant sends the data access application to Eurostat using the Microdata Access Workflow Tool
  • (After receipt of the application, the Eurostat technical unit may contact the Principal Investigator with preliminary feedback and/or requests for revision)
  • The submitter should monitor the EU Login account for updates regarding the application. (Library staff do not have access to individual EU Login accounts)
  • If the application is approved by Eurostat, the applicant should proceed as follows:
    • Print all documents
    • The Principal Investigator initials all pages of the application, and signs and dates the final page
    • The Data Manager ([email protected]) signs the application
    • Separate confidentiality declarations must be signed by (i) the applicant(s) (ii) the P.I. and (iii) the Data Manager. All researchers and assistants named in the project must sign a separate confidentiality declaration
    • The applicant must scan the documents and upload to the EU Login account
    • Click 'Send' to submit the documents
  • Eurostat confirms receipt
  • The Library provides access to the data.

Eurostat informs that no person(s) other than those named in the contract can access the data. Breach of contract conditions may lead to the withdrawal of the EUI's research entity recognition, and the potential loss of access to Eurostat micro data by other EUI scholars.

There is no off-campus access to micro data.

Short-term visitors to the EUI Library do not have access to micro data.

Member State statistical agencies and/or Eurostat reserve the right to decline access to EU-LFS data.

At the end of the project contract period, Eurostat will contact the P.I. requesting a signed confirmation of destruction of local copies/sub-sets of the data.

Publications based on the data should be reported via this online form.


Metadata support

The GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences maintains the Metadata for Official Statistics Support Portal for European micro data. Detailed metadata and documentation for EU-AES and other micro datasets are available.

The service is part of MISSY - the GESIS Microdata Information System - providing support for users of European micro data.

“MISSY pools a broad spectrum of metadata in one centralised resource. This includes information on series, such as access conditions or details on data collection in participating countries, as well as detailed information on variables such as frequencies, filter information or question wordings... Users can choose between systematic accesses via a series, the variable-over-time matrix which lists the availability of variables in table form or a thematically sorted access to all studies. Additionally selected variables can be visualised in a comparison table.”


Data Citation and disclaimer

Researchers must cite the source of EU-LFS data as follows:

"This study/report/paper is based on data from Eurostat, EU Labour Force Survey [reference year(s)]."

The following disclaimer must be added: "The responsibility for all conclusions drawn from the data lies entirely with the author(s)."


Related resources


Data homepage

Contact: Thomas Bourke at [email protected]  




Page last updated on 24 February 2021