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Labour market

Differences between employment figures of Labour Force Survey and national accounts estimates

Employment estimates in the context of national accounts on the one hand and Labour Force Survey on the other hand are two important statistics for figuring out the number of employed persons in Germany. However, the results of both statistics re­gar­ding this num­ber differ from each other. For 2016, Labour Force Survey results show 2.2 million less employed persons than national accounts estimates.

This discrepancy is to be explained mainly by the different methods and tech­niques of the two statistics, but also in part by not completely matching de­fi­ni­tions. The re­con­ci­li­ation table below visualizes the backgrounds of the dif­fe­rent figures. According to de­fi­ni­tions, the main distinctions lie in the differentiation of persons who have interrupted their employment. Regarding me­thods, it is mea­ning­ful that national accounts estimates are calculating an em­ploy­ment figure based on some 60 statistical sources, while Labour Force Survey as a house­hold survey rests upon the statements of interviewed persons. This explains why discrepancies are to be found pre­do­mi­nant­ly in the field of marginal em­ploy­ments. According to experience, the collection of small (side) jobs and of oc­cu­pa­tions in the border area of clandestine employment often proves to be prob­lem­atic in house­hold surveys. Therefore, national account estimates make use of additional ap­pro­xi­ma­tions for areas which are difficult to mea­sure, e. g. in the field of do­mes­tic servicing.

The reconciliation table numbers the differences between national accounts em­ploy­ment es­ti­mates and Labour Force Survey. Based on the national accounts estimates, dis­cre­pan­cies that stem from different definitions are shown first. For example, na­tio­nal ac­counts estimates assume 40,000 employed persons more than does the La­bour Force Survey, because the former covers also employed persons under the age of 15 years. The second part shows differences due to methodological aspects. For that purpose, we show – subdivided by oc­cu­pa­tio­nal status – the deviations of Labour Force Survey in comparison to im­por­tant sources and additional ap­pro­xi­ma­tions of na­tio­nal accounts em­ployment es­ti­ma­tions. The last part shows dis­cre­pan­cies between Labour Force Survey and the German Microcensus.

National account estimations are used primarily for the observation of em­ploy­ment in the context of the overall eco­no­mi­cal and cyclical development, while Labour Force Survey with its large number of variables is mainly utilized to ana­lyze the situation of specific sec­tions of the po­pu­la­tion, for interdisciplinary exa­mi­na­tions, and for international com­pa­ri­sons.

Reconciliation Table between Labour Force Survey and National Accounts estimates (2016)
in 1,000 personsspecification

1 Source: Federal Employment Agency
2 Source: Labour Force Survey/German Microcensus
3 Source: Statistics of Public Service Personnel; Ministry of Defence; Bahn AG; Post; Telekom; Churches

Rounding differences in sums may occur.

43,544Result National Accounts - total employment (domestic concept)
-401Deviations due to definitions and concepts-40Employed persons aged less than 151
-380Employed persons on extended leave (> 3 months; < 50% salary)2
+19Employed persons working in extraterritorial organisations and bodies2
-1,802Deviations due to methodological differences-1,085Net difference between main source used in NA and LFS for specific status in employment +448employees fully covered by social security contributions1
-1,609marginal employees1
-76puplic officials and soldiers3
0self-employed and unpaid family workers2
- 718Net difference of adjustments in the NA
41,339Result German Microcensus - employed (place of residence)
-97Employed persons living in collective households2
+26Difference due to household definition of Eurostat2
41,267Labour Force Survey - employees in private households

Additional background information regarding the varying results can be found in the following articles of the magazine “Wirtschaft und Statistik", "Körner/Marder-Puch 04/2015; Körner/Puch 06/2009; Projektbericht 2011. (only in German).

Additional Information

Key figures


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