Labour Force Survey (LFS)

Alternative Title: 
Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS)

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) has been carried out in the UK since 1973. It is a quarterly sample survey of households living at private addresses in Great Britain. Its purpose is to provide information on the UK labour market that can then be used to develop, manage, evaluate and report on labour market policies. It is conducted by the Office for National Statistics.

From 1973 to 1983 the survey was carried out biennially and was increasingly used by UK Government departments to obtain information which would assist in the framing of social and economic policy. From 1984 until 1991 it was conducted annually and consisted of two elements:
(i) a quarterly survey conducted in Great Britain throughout the year
(ii) a 'boost' survey in the quarter March - May.
In 1992 the Quarterly LFS was introduced with a quarterly sample size approximately equivalent to that of the previous annual data. In 2007, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) undertook a reweighting project, whereby LFS data were reweighted using population estimates for 2007-2008. As a result, reweighted editions of LFS back to 1992 were deposited at UKDA during 2008. 

The questionnaire comprises a core of questions which are included in every survey, together with non-core questions which vary from quarter to quarter. The questionnaire can be split into two main parts:
(i) questions on information about household, family structure, basic housing information and demographic details of individuals in households.
(ii) questions on economic activity, education, health.

Sample size: 100,000 households, of which 7,800 in Scotland.

The Annual Population Survey (APS) represents a major new survey which comprises key variables from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), all the LFS boosts and the APS boost. It provides survey data that can produce reliable estimates at local authority level. For more information visit the APS web pages.

Spatial Coverage: 
United Kingdom
Data Creator: 
Office for National Statistics
Time Period: 

1975 - latest.

Data Publisher:


See documentation on ONS web site.

  • The National Statistics web site contains detailed information about the survey.
  • Special Licence: Some QLFS files (1992-2011) are now available via the UK Data Service Secure Lab. This version contains the same content as the QLFS end user file but has additional geographical information at the local authority level.
  • The LFS Annual Local Area Data Series and the Unitary Authority/Local Authority (UA/LA series) have been withdrawn on instruction from ONS, due to confidentiality issues.
File Descriptions: 

Microdata files from individual surveys. As well as the main survey, several sub-sample and derived datasets are also produced, including longitudinal panel microdata series and a Eurostat version of the dataset.Time series aggregate statistics can be displayed or downloaded from the Nomis - official labour market statistics web site.


Microdata files.

Data Access: 

Users must register with the UK Data Service before receiving copies of microdata files. Aggregate statistics from Nomis are freely available. A subset of the data is available only via the UK Data Service Secure Lab.