Labour Force Survey (LFS) resources

The global reference for labour force survey design

National labour force surveys (LFS) are the main source behind essential headline indicators of the labour market and the world of work. A wide range of economic and social policies, from monetary and fiscal policies to employment, decent work, vocational education and training, and a wide range of poverty reduction and social inclusion policies depend on labour force surveys as their main source of statistics for informed decision-making and monitoring.

The ILO Department of Statistics, as part of its mandate, works to document and consolidate existing national LFS practice, and develop and test new methods to support the collection of work and labour market data, aligned with the latest international standards.

What's new

  • Version 2 of Model LFS Questionnaires released (Mar 2019)
  • Wave 1 of pilot study in Sri Lanka ongoing (Mar 2019)
  • Preparations underway for cognitive testing of volunteer work module in Senegal and Jordan (Mar 2019)
  • Cognitive test of volunteer work module completed in Ukraine (Feb 2019)
  • Pre-test of questionnaires for pilot study in Sri Lanka completed (Feb 2019)

PAPI resources

Paper and pencil interviewing (PAPI) remains an important method of LFS data collection in many countries and regions around the world. Updating LFS questionnaires implemented through PAPI to incorporate the latest international standards in labour statistics can be an important challenge. The ILO model LFS for PAPI is designed using a modular approach to facilitate selection of topics relevant to the national context and simplified skip instructions to enable interviewers to manage a good quality interview flow using paper questionnaires.

The work-related modules are designed to produce core labour statistics aligned with the latest ICLS standards and good survey practice including:

  • The working age population by labour force status; employment, labour underutilization including unemployment, long-term unemployment, time-related underemployment, potential labour force;
  • Characteristics of the employed including multiple job holding, occupation, industry, institutional sector, status in employment, informal sector employment and informal employment, contract characteristics, job-related social protection; identification of groups of specific policy interest such as domestic workers, home-based workers, workers in triangular relationships; as well as new approaches to identify dependent contractors and other non-standard forms of employment;
  • Optional modules on work in agriculture or fishing, and own-use production of goods.

Additional modules covering key background characteristics to generate indicators and disaggregations as needed to support monitoring of Decent Work, SDGs and other national and global goals, are also provided including: basic demographics, education, migration status and disability status, aligned with the latest international standards and survey practice on those topics.

Approach 1Approach 2Approach 3
ILO model LFS questionnaire for PAPI - Demographic and background characteristics (v2, 2019)WordPDFforthcoming
ILO model LFS questionnaire for PAPI - Labour Modules (v2, 2019)WordPDF
National adaptation guide for ILO PAPI model LFS (v2, 2019)WordPDF
Variable derivation guide for ILO PAPI model LFS (v2, 2019)WordPDF

CAPI resources

Computer Assisted Interview methods are being increasingly used in survey implementation. Questionnaires implemented in this way can utilise in-built features to improve the flow of the questionnaire for the interviewer and respondent versus pen and paper questionnaires. This not only lowers respondent burden, but it also increases the ability to create more varied and wide-ranging questionnaires which is more difficult to manage through PAPI. Furthermore the ability to capture data electronically creates both data quality and efficiency gains given the possibility to implement improved real-time validations and the removal of the need for manual data entry. As such, CAPI and other computer assisted interviewing methods offer a wide range of benefits both for data quality but also in efficiency, flexibility and adaptability of surveys.

The ILO model LFS for CAPI are designed using a modular approach to facilitate selection of topics relevant to the national context and optimized flows that take advantage of the CAPI environment. Different model questionnaire approaches will be made available (see below), allowing countries to choose the approach closest to their national LFS practice or most suitable to the national context.

The work-related modules are designed to produce core labour statistics aligned with the latest ICLS standards and good survey practice including:

  • The working age population by labour force status; employment, labour underutilization including unemployment, long-term unemployment, time-related underemployment, potential labour force;
  • Characteristics of the employed including multiple job holding, occupation, industry, institutional sector, status in employment, informal sector employment and informal employment, contract characteristics, job-related social protection; identification of groups of specific policy interest such as domestic workers, home-based workers, workers in triangular relationships; as well as new approaches to identify dependent contractors and other non-standard forms of employment;
  • Optional modules on work in agriculture or fishing, and own-use production of goods.

Additional modules covering key background characteristics to generate indicators and disaggregations as needed to support monitoring of Decent Work, SDGs and other national and global goals, are also provided including: basic demographics, education, migration status and disability status, aligned with the latest international standards and survey practice on those topics.

Approach 1Approach 2Approach 3
ILO model LFS questionnaire for CAPI - Demographic and background characteristics (v2, 2019)WordPDFforthcoming
ILO model LFS questionnaire for CAPI - Labour Modules (v2, 2019)WordPDF
National adaptation guide for ILO CAPI model LFS (v2, 2019)WordPDF
Variable derivation guide for ILO CAPI model LFS (v2, 2019)WordPDF

See also

Measuring work in official statistics: The new international standards
Measuring employment, labour force status and labour underutilization