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Labour Force Surveys are statistical surveys conducted in a number of countries designed to capture data about the labour market. All European Union member states are required to conduct a Labour Force Survey annually. Labour Force Surveys are also carried out in some non-EU countries. They are used to calculate the International Labour Organization (ILO)-defined unemployment rate. The ILO agrees the definitions and concepts employed in Labour Force Surveys.

History

European Union

Prior to 1998, EU member states were required to conduct an LFS in one quarter per year, but as a result of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 577/98 of 9 March 1998 they are now expected to submit LFS results for every quarter to Eurostat. Responsibility for sample selection, questionnaire design and fieldwork lies with member states' national statistical offices, who then forward the results to Eurostat, employing a common coding scheme.

The EU LFS, as it is known, covers not only the EU member states but also three of the four European Free Trade Association countries (Icelandmarker, Norwaymarker and Switzerlandmarker) and candidate countries.

United Kingdom

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) conducted the United Kingdommarker's first Labour Force Survey in 1973 and repeated it every two years until 1983. The European Community then introduced a requirement for all of its member states to conduct an LFS and the ONS introduced a quarterly element to its LFS. The UK switched to a full quarterly survey in 1992, initially with seasonal quarters but moving to calendar quarters in 2006.

Australia

The first Australian LFS was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in November 1960. Initially, the LFS was conducted only in state capitals, in February, May, August, and November, but in February 1964 it was rolled out to the whole of Australia. The last quarterly survey was conducted in November 1977. The LFS became monthly in February 1978, when the range of topics covered was increased and the LFS measure became the official measure of unemployment.

New Zealand

New Zealandmarker's quarterly Household Labour Force Survey was established in December 1985. It was revised in 1990 to include new variables including underemployment.

Usage

In addition to being used to generate official statistics, data from the LFS are employed by academics and other researchers. In the UK, for example, the LFS has been used as a data source for research projects on topics such as female employment, the economic returns to education, migration and ethnic minority groups.

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