Labour force survey

0. Registration entry for subjects

0.1 Name

Labour force survey

0.2 Subject area

Labour market

0.3 Responsible authority; office, division, person etc.

Labour market and social statistics
Fax 528 1199

Lárus Blöndal
Tel 528 1281

Ólafur Már Sigurðsson
Tel 528 1284

0.4 Purpose and history

In order to obtain reliable, illuminating data on the domestic labour market Statistics Iceland started regular Labour Force Surveys in 1991. Models were sought elsewhere in the Nordic countries and comparable surveys in the countries of the European Union. Since 1995 the LFS data has been sent in a standardised form to the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) in accordance with the agreement on the EEA.
The first survey was conducted in April 1991. In the years 1991 to 2002 two surveys were conduced each year, in April and November. In January 2003 Statistics Iceland changed to a continuous Labour Force Survey were the survey is conducted through the entire year. The year is divided into four periods of 13 weeks each and results are published quarterly.

0.5 Users and application

The main users are economic institutes, the social partners, government and international institutions

0.6 Sources

The LFS is a sample survey and are the interviews conducted via telephone (CATI). In addition background information is obtained from the National register.

0.7 Legal basis for official statistics

Law concerning Statistics Iceland nr. 24/1913.

0.8 Response burden

The respondents are free to refuse to participate in the survey. The average interview is around 6 minutes.

0.9 EEA and EU obligations

The agreement on the European Economic Area, appendix XXI. (Appendix 19 nr. 7/94)

1. Contents

1.1 Description of content

The LFS gives detailed information concerning the labour status of the Icelandic population. The following information can be derived from the survey.

Main status
Main job
Second job
Previous work experience
Search for employment
Trade union membership
Situation one year ago
Education and training
Highest level of education

1.2 Statistical concepts

The key concepts of the LFS are based on the definitions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Eurostat :

Employed. People are classified as working (employed) if they worked one hour or more in the reference week or were absent from the work they usually carry out. Individuals on birth leave are considered absent from work if they went on leave from a paid job, even if they have no intentions of returning to the same job.

Unemployment. Persons are classified as unemployed who have no employment and satisfy one of the following criteria:
1. Have been seeking work for the previous four weeks and are ready to start working within two weeks from when the survey is conducted
2. Have found a job which will begin within three months but could start working within two weeks. (Until 2002 the criterion was that it sufficed for the job to start within four weeks without it being investigated whether the person involved could begin within two weeks.)
3. Await being called to work and are able to start working within two weeks
4. Have given up seeking work but wish to work and could start working within two weeks.
Students, including those looking for an apprenticeship in a trade, are only considered unemployed if they have been seeking a job along with their studies or a permanent job for the past four weeks and are available to start work within two weeks of the surveys occurrence.

Outside the work force. People are termed outside the work force if they are neither employed nor fulfil the conditions for being unemployed.
The labour force is considered to consist of employed and unemployed persons.

2. Time

2.1 Reference periods

Data is collected throughout the year in a continuous survey. The year is divided into four periods of 13 weeks each and the sample is 4030 individuals in each quarter. The sample is equally divided amongst the 13 weeks and each respondent asked questions concerning the survey reference week.

2.2 Process time

First results of each quarter are ready 4 working days after the last interview. Yearly data is ready in February/March.

2.3 Punctuality

The first press release with quarterly results is published 4 working days after the last interview.

2.4 Frequency of releases

Four times a year.

3. Reliability and security

3.1 Accuracy and reliability

The LFS is a sample survey and entails a degree of uncertainty because of the nature of sample surveys.

3.2 Sources of errors

Sampling errors. Every sample survey entails a degree of uncertainty because of the sample not being an exact reflection of the entire registry or population. Because of the random nature of this uncertainty, it is possible to calculate the confidence limits for the numbers being estimated.

Coverage errors. In some cases the sampling frame does not reflect the actual population. Either there is over coverage when there are individuals in the frame that should be excluded or there is under coverage when there are individuals that ought to be assigned to the population but are not in the frame.

Non-response errors. In all surveys, results may represent errors because of non-response in the sample being unevenly distributed among groups. The main reasons for non-response are refusals, hindrances due to illness or disability, absence from home while the survey is proceeding, or a failure to find the residence or telephone number of those in the sample.

Interviewer errors. Interviewers can record the answers of their respondents wrongly, omit questions, confuse the order of questions, or rephrase them so as to ask about something other than was intended.

Processing errors. The classification of certain "open" questions after the interview is finished can also lead to errors, in which connection the categorisation of occupation, economic activity and educational level should especially be mentioned. These errors can result from insufficient information in the original documentation, unclear instructions in the classification systems, and mistakes by those classifying.

Design errors.
Unsatisfactory organisation and design of the survey can lead to results which do not correspond to reality. The phrasing of questions can cause misunderstandings, a different ordering of the questions can result in dissimilar answers, and the experience of the respondents from former surveys can influence their answers.

3.3 Measures on confidence limits/accuracy

4. Comparison

4.1 Comparison between periods

In the years 1991 to 2002 the LFS was conducted twice a year but since 2003 the LFS has been a continuous survey. Changes in the questionnaire and the structure in of the survey are shown with a break in the time series in the publications.

4.2 Comparison with other statistics

Registered unemployment is defined with a different definition than the LFS unemployment definition. Employed population derived from the pay as you go register is also defined by a different definition than the LFS.

4.3 Coherence between preliminary and final statistics

Changes in data or figures is minimal from the first press release to the final publication.

5. Access to information

5.1 Forms of dissemination

Press releases published on Statistics Iceland web page.
Press release sent to all news media and subscribers at the same moment as the press release is published on the web page.
Statistical Series
Statistical yearbook of Iceland.
Statistics Iceland web page as soon as figures are available
Icelandic Labour Market: 1991-1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Quarterly data sent to Eurostat since 2003. Spring data 1991-2002.

5.2 Basic data; storage and usability

Data is stored electronically at Statistics Iceland. There is no access available to the raw data but it is possible to make specific data requests. It is also possible to request data from Eurostat.

5.3 Reports

See previous.

5.4 Other information

For other information contact Statistics Iceland.

© Hagstofa �slands, �ann 8-12-2011