European Union Labour Force Survey, 1983-

Alternative Title: 

The European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) is a valuable quarterly sample survey covering the population in private households in the 28 Member States of the European Union and three countries of the European Free Trade Association. By providing data on employment, unemployment and inactivity, it is an important source of information about the trends in the labour market in the European Union. Eurostat started the collection of microdata in 1983 with one reference quarter per year (usually in spring). In the period from 1998 to 2005, the survey underwent a transition to a continuous quarterly survey.  An LFS update [for 1983-2012) was released in November 2013.

The contents comprise tables on population, employment, working time, permanency of the job, employees etc. The data is commonly broken down by age, sex, education level, economic activity and occupation where applicable. The encrypted DVD contains:

  • EU LFS time-series microdata (1983 - 2012)
  • EU LFS microdata ad hoc modules (1999, 2002 - 2011)

Time-series aggregate statistics from the EU LFS are available in the Eurostat online dissemination database, which is regularly updated and available free of charge.

Spatial Coverage: 
Data Creator: 
Time Period: 

1983 onwards.


See main page for:

  • Information note (pdf)
  • Anonymisation criteria (pdf)
  • User guide (pdf)


File Descriptions: 

November 2013 RELEASE: 2 volumes (encrypted DVDs held by the Data Library)

  • 1983-2012 core data
  • Ad-hoc modules 1999, 2002-2011
File Storage: 

Received February 2014; stored on DVDs in locked file cabinet. Two original copies of the two DVDs exist.


Microdata files in plain text (CSV) format with SAS format import statements.

Data Access: 

The Data Library acts as Data Manager on behalf of the University of Edinburgh as a Eurostat recognised research entity. Therefore, Edinburgh University users should contact the Data Library for access.

Note: Please see the documentation of the application process for the microdata. Users are required to submit a Research proposal application form, stating in detail how the dataset will be used, and complete a Confidentiality Declaration to be held by the Data Library. Users must comply with the terms of the licence, including providing Eurostat with notification of all publications. The application process typically takes 8-10 weeks.