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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 2017, Labour Force Survey results show 2.5 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 (2017)
in 1,000 personsspecification

1 From 2017 onwards the German Microcensus does not cover employed persons in collective households. Compared to previous versions the new deviation is introduced in the block of conceptual differences and deleted from the block of differences between the result of the Microcensus and the Labour Force Survey. The value is based on an estimation of the years 2011-2016.

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

Rounding differences in sums may occur.

44,155Result National Accounts - total employment (domestic concept)
-475Deviations due to definitions and concepts-36Employed persons aged less than 152
-90Employed persons living in collective households1
-370Employed persons on extended leave (> 3 months; < 50% salary)3
+21Employed persons working in extraterritorial organisations and bodies3
-2,037Deviations due to methodological differences-1,329Net difference between main source used in NA and LFS for specific status in employment +64employees fully covered by social security contributions2
-1,458marginal employees2
+65puplic officials and soldiers4
0self-employed and unpaid family workers3
- 709Net difference of adjustments in the NA
41,641Result German Microcensus - employed (place of residence)
+26Difference due to household definition of Eurostat2
41,663Labour Force Survey - employed persons 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).

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