Basic statistical concepts: employment, unemployment and activity in Labour Force Surveys
National Labour Force Surveys(LFS) are the best way to capture unemployment and employment according to the ILO guidelines that define the criteria for a person to be considered as unemployed or employed. These criteria are summarised below (see further details on Labour Force Statistics in OECD countries: sources and coverage).
Employment - Persons in civilian employment include all those employed above a specified age who during a specified brief period, either one week or one day, were in the following categories: i) paid employment; ii) employers and self-employed; iii) unpaid family workers; unpaid family workers at work should be considered as being self-employed irrespective of the number of hours worked during the reference period. For operational purposes, the notion of some work may be interpreted as work for at least one hour. Total employment is defined as the sum of civilian employment and members of the armed forces.
Unemployment - The unemployed comprise all persons above a specified age, who during the reference period were: i) without work, i.e. were not in paid employment or self-employment during the reference period; ii) currently available for work, i.e. were available for paid employment or self-employment during the reference period; iii) seeking work, i.e. had taken specific steps in a specified recent period to seek paid employment or self-employment.
Labour Force - The Civilian Labour Force, or currently active population, comprises all persons who fulfill the requirements for inclusion among the civilian employed or the unemployed. Total Labour Force is equal to Civilian Labour Force plus the members of the armed forces.
While data from LFS make international comparisons easier compared to a mixture of survey and registration data, there are some differences across countries in coverage, survey timing, etc, that may affect international comparisons of labour market outcomes. In this context, harmonised unemployment rates for 27 OECD countries are presented in the Statistical Annex (Table A) of our annual flagship publication, the OECD Employment Outlook.
Definition: . Unemployment rate : unemployed persons divided by the labour force. . Employment to population ratio: persons in employment divided by the population . Labour force participation rate: persons in the labour force divided by the population Data are expressed in percentages. Estimates are derived from national Labour Force Surveys.
Definition: Total unemployment is broken down by unemployment durations. For each unemployment duration, data are expressed in % of total unemployment (and are further broken down by sex and age groups) or in thousands of persons. Estimates are derived from national Labour Force Surveys. Differences across countries in questionnaire wording and design, survey timing, the age groups covered and other reasons mean that care is required in interpreting cross-country differences in levels. For further details, see the sources, coverage and definitions of Labour Force Statistics in OECD countries.
Definition: Discouraged workers are persons who desire to work, but who are not in the labour force, believing that there is no work available due to various reasons. Data are expressed in % of labour force and % of total population (aged 15-64), or in thousands of persons. They are broken down by sex and age groups. Estimates are derived from national Labour Force Surveys.
Definition: ULC measure the average cost of labour per unit of output. They are calculated as the ratio of total labour costs to real output, or equivalently, as the ratio of mean labour costs per hour to labour productivity (output per hour). Read details on the measure of Unit labour costs.
Definition: Total employment is broken down by job tenure intervals. For each interval, data are expressed in thousands of persons. Average job durations, expressed in years, are also available. Estimates are derived from national Labour Force Surveys.
Definition: Average annual hours actually worked per person in employment. The concept used is the total number of hours worked over the year divided by the average number of people in employment. Part-time workers are covered as well as full-time workers. National estimates are based on the best available sources. For further details see the methodology used for data on annual hours actually worked. The data are intended for comparisons of trends over time; they are unsuitable for comparisons of level of average annual hours of work for a given year, because of differences in their sources.
Definition: Average annual wages per full-time equivalent dependent employee are obtained by dividing the National Accounts based total wage bill by the average number of employees in the total economy, which is then multiplied by the ratio of average usual weekly hours per full-time employee to average usually weekly hours for all employees. Read more details on the estimation of average annual wages.
Earnings dispersion: this dataset contains three earnings-dispersion measures - ratio of 9th-to-1st, 9th-to-5th and 5th-to-1st - where ninth, fifth (or median) and first deciles are upper-earnings decile limits, unless otherwise indicated, of gross earnings of full-time dependent employees.
The incidence of low pay refers to the share of workers earning less than two-thirds of median earnings. The incidence of high pay refers to the share of workers earning more than one-and-a-half time median earnings
Gaps: The gender wage gap is calculated as the difference between median earnings of men and women relative to median earnings of men. The age wage gap is calculated as the difference between mean earnings of 25-54 year-olds and that of 15-24 year-olds (respectively 55-64 year-olds) relative to mean earnings of 25-54 year-olds. Earnings by skill (or education levels) refer to mean annual earnings of full-time full-year 25-64 year-old employees. Earnings gaps by skill levels are calculated as the difference between mean earnings of medium-skilled employees and low- (respectively high-) skilled employees relative to mean earnings of medium-skilled employees.
Definition: The OECD indicators of employment protection measure the procedures and costs involved in dismissing individuals or groups of workers and the procedures involved in hiring workers on fixed-term or temporary work agency contracts. Download: