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ILO labour market statistics

What does the International labour organization (ILO) labour market statistics describe?

The ILO labour market statistics of the Federal Statistical Office provide monthly information on the development of employment and unemployment in Germany. The data regularly published include the absolute figures of employed persons (original and seasonally adjusted value) from employment accounts. What is also published is the employment and unemployment figures by age, East/West and sex as original values and as values adjusted for seasonal and irregular influences.

The Office's ILO labour market statistics follows the Labour Force Concept of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which allows international comparisons of labour markets. In accordance with the ILO definition, any person at working age is considered employed if he/she worked for remuneration or as self-employed or as a family worker for at least one hour in the one-week reference period. Also, persons formally having a job and only temporarily not having performed that job within the reference period are considered employed.

According to the definition of ILO, as concretised by the EU, any person aged between 15 and 74 years is considered unemployed if he/she was not employed in that period, but actively sought work over the four weeks preceding the survey. The volume of time of the work sought is not relevant. The person must be able to take up employment within two weeks. It is not necessary to involve an employment agency or a local institution in the search. Persons at working age who are neither employed nor unemployed are regarded as part of the inactive population.

The unemployment definition based on the ILO criteria, which is required for international comparisons, differs from the definition of the number of registered unemployed according to the German Social Security Code (SGB), which is the basis of the figures published by the Federal Employment Agency. For a person to be recorded as registered unemployed, the SGB requires that the person is registered with an employment agency or a local institution and seeks an employment of at least 15 hours per week. In line with the SGB, it is however possible to perform a job of less than 15 hours for additional earnings despite being registered as unemployed.

This means that, on the one hand, the ILO labour market statistics includes unemployed persons who are not counted as unemployed by the Federal Employment Agency. On the other hand, there are persons who are considered unemployed in the statistics of the Federal Employment Agency but who are not unemployed according to the definitions of the ILO labour market statistics.

How are the data for the International labour organization (ILO) labour market statistics obtained?

From the reference month of March 2011, the unemployment time series of the ILO labour market statistics was switched over to the labour force survey and, since March 2011, has been published with a slightly modified calculation of the unemployment rate and a modified estimation of adjusted employment and unemployment figures. The labour force survey in Germany is part of the microcensus, a continuous computer-aided household survey. The microcensus is the largest household survey in Europe and involves compulsory response. It is a multi-purpose survey and is used not only to supply structural data as part of the monthly ILO labour market statistics but also to determine monthly longitudinal data.

Employment data are results obtained in the context of national accounting. They are based on all major sources of employment statistics, in particular, the statistics of employees subject to social insurance contributions, the labour force survey / microcensus, personnel statistics and short, medium and long-term statistics of different sectors of economic activity.

When are the results of the International labour organization (ILO) labour market statistics released?

The monthly employment and unemployment figures calculated in accordance with the ILO concept are generally published in a press release on the last working day of the month following the reference month. The exact publication dates are given in the release calendar of the Federal Statistical Office.

How accurate is the International labour organization (ILO) labour market statistics?

While the unemployment figures of the Federal Employment Agency are obtained by a complete count of an official register, the method applied in the context of the labour force survey is based on a random sample. As the result for the total population is obtained by expanding the sample result or, in other terms, producing an expansion-based estimate, this involves some degree of inaccuracy. Its extent depends on manifold factors, in particular, the sample size. With the help of mathematical methods, the extent of the so-called standard error can be determined. It indicates the magnitude to which the “actual” result may differ, with a probability that can be indicated, from the result of the sample survey. The standard error for the number of unemployed persons is indicated in the publications regarding the ILO labour market statistics. All the rates and rates of change published include a standard error of significantly less than 15 percent. Hence they are in line with the accuracy-related quality criterion of the Federal Statistical Office.

The data on employment in Germany calculated over the last few years through the labour force survey and the employment accounts differ considerably. By many improvements in the labour force survey, especially regarding the coverage of marginally employed persons, those differences have markedly been reduced, although it has not been possible to eliminate them entirely. The exact reasons are still being examined. More detailed information on the differences in results is contained in the paper "Der Mikrozensus im Kotext anderer Arbeitsmarktstatistiken".

Data on the accuracy of the employment figures determined in the context of national accounting are part of another paper on that indicator.

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