Labour market and earnings

Index of labour costsQ1 2020, preliminary figures


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Index of labour costs
Topic: Labour market and earnings

Next release

Responsible division

Division for Structural Business Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

The labour cost index

measures changes in total labour costs, direct labour costs ad indirect labour costs per hour. Total labour costs are the sum of direct labour costs and indirect labor costs.

Direct labour costs

include wages and salaries, remuneration and other cash payments like paid annual leave, sickness pay, representation allowances. In other words, payment for hours not worked are also included in direct labour costs. The main sources for direct labour costs are wage totals and wage index.

Wages and other remuneration

contains basic paid salaries and other cash payments, among others, sitting-allowances paid to committee members, paid annual leave, sickness pay, representation allowances, and benefits from cashing in or selling options in employment relations.

Payment for hours not worked

includes, among other things, paid annual leave, sickness pay, pay for various leave of absence and expenses on extra holidays.

Indirect labour costs

include salaries in kind, costs for health and safety, social contributions, training costs and taxes on labour. The main sources for indirect labour costs are the labour cost survey for training costs, costs for health and safety, most social contributions and some of the salaries in kind, and the wage totals for some social contributions and most salaries in kind.

Salaries in kind

is a common term for benefits besides the usual salaries. It includes, among other things, costs in connection with free cars, car allowances, free telephones, free newspapers, various welfare initiatives and taxable salaries in kind. Taxable salaries in kind are got from The Register of End of the Year Certificate, which includes, among other things, collective insurance contributions, free food and lodging, toll or monthly travel cards paid by the employer, free electricity, free housing, holiday trips paid by the employer and benefits from contributions to kindergartens for employees' children.

Costs of health and safety

include costs of health services provided by the company, and costs of various workplace safety initiatives to the benefit of employees.

Social contributions

are expenditures on pension schemes and insurance such as insurance against occupational injury and insurance against accidents.

Training costs

include, among other things, the costs of participation in external courses and further education paid for by the employer, the costs of running schools and courses run by the company, the costs of recruitment and the costs of training new employees.

Hours worked

The index shows changes in labour costs per hour. The data sources have information on contractual working hours and the number of overtime. Hours worked are the sum of contractual working hours and overtime.

Standard classifications

Before 2009 the industrial classification in the Labour Cost Index is defined by economic activities according to Standard Industrial Classification SN2002 , which is the Norwegian version of International Industrial Classification, also known as NACE Rev. 1.1.


From 2009 a new version of Norwegian Standard Industrial Classification SIC2007 is in use, which is in accordance with the EU’s new NACE Rev. 2.

Administrative information

Regional level

National level

Frequency and timeliness

The labour cost index is compiled every quarter, and is published no later than 70 days after the end of each quarter.The published figures may be revised by changes in labour cost survey.

International reporting



The files in which the data material from the various data sources are put together are stored.


Background and purpose

The background of the labour cost index is the need for more timeliness in the measurement of changes in labour costs. The purpose is therefore to show changes in labour costs through the year.

The index was published for the first time for the third quarter of 2004, with back indices to the first quarter of 1998.

From 1st quarter 2009 Statistics Norway has introduced a new version of Norwegian industry classification (SIC2007). This new classification provides a more suitable and updated description of the activity concerning both the private and public sectors, with more focus on service industries.

The early time series of Labour cost index for the period from 1st quarter 2000 to 4th quarter 2008 are therefore recalculated based on SIC2007. Time series in accordance with SIC2002 will not be published as from January/first quarter of 2009, but will be available in StatBank.

The labur cost index was revised in the publication of fourth quarter 2009 and 2018, due to the results in the labour cost survey 2008 and 2016.


Users and applications

The principal users of the labour cost index will be Eurostat, the Technical Reporting Committee on income Settlement , Statistics Norway's National Accounts and business.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 8 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given inthe Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Coherence with other statistics

The development in the labour cost index will tally with the development in wage-cost totals in the National accounts and the labour cost survey.

Legal authority

The relevant legal authorities are those that apply to the different sources of data used to estimate the index (see item 3.2).

EEA reference

Council regulation (EF) nr. 450/2003 of 27 February, concerning short-term statistics on labour costs.



The population covers all the establishments in Statistics Norway's Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises, industrial groups B to S, according the new version of Norwegian industry classification (SIC2007) which is implemented from the 1st quarter of 2009. For general information about the transition to the new Standard Industrial Classification click here .

Data sources and sampling

The labour cost index is obtained by putting together Quarterly Wage Index , Structural Statistics on Wages , The Labour Cost Survey and wage totals from The Register of End of the Year Certificate .

Until 2015:

The labour cost index is carried out within the frame work set by the data sources. The units included in the statistics are consequently limited to those units included in the quarterly wage index, annual wage statistics, the labor cost survey and wage totals from The Register of End of the Year Certificate.


From 2015:

The statistics is based on full cencus data from a-meldingen. More about a-meldingen:https://www.altinn.no/en/a-ordningen/

Collection of data, editing and estimations

The labour cost index has no data collection of its own.

The indices are checked against historical series and are compared with the published statistics from the data sources.

The labour cost index is a Laspeyres index with fixed weights. The labour cost index is constructed as a sum of sub-indices for cost components constituting total labour costs. Changes in labour costs are estimated and then weighted together to obtain a labour cost index, where weights are based on information from the labour cost survey.

The index is an unadjusted index. It is neither working day nor seasonally adjusted. This means that the index shows changes in labour costs per hour and that variations in the number of working hours or days between the quarters do not affect the index in the present quarter.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


Not relevant

Comparability over time and space

Statistical releases older than 6 June 2017.

The labour cost index was produced for the first time with figures for the third quarter of 2004 and is comparable back to 1998 for all the economic activities covered. From the 1st quarter of 2009 Labour cost index publishes in accordance with SIC2007 and the reference value changes to the average of the quarters in 2005, such that 2005=100.

The index values are comparable only within the same version of Standard Industrial Classification .

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Measurement errors
Measurement errors in the labour cost index relate to the possibility of inconsistencies between the data sources with respect to the definitions of variables.

Processing errors
Processing errors in this connection, relate to the utilization of the data material from the data sources in a homogeneous way.

The labour cost index is not encumbered by sample bias of its own.

Register errors
Every source of data is linked to industry code in Statistics Norway's Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises. Incorrect information in the register my result in industrial misclassification of units.

Model errors
The labour cost index is constructed by putting several statistics together, where weights are used to weight the statistics. The way in which this weighting is built up is a source of model error.

Coverage errors
One model assumption is that the data sources reflect the true distribution of the population, respecting units, variables and labour cost components.


From 2015 the statistics is mainly based on data from a-meldingen. Here also, observations can be discarded due to missing information and/or incorrect values for the variables.


The published figures may be revised by changes in labour cost survey which is conducted every fourth year.

Preliminary figures will be final when the statistics on labour cost survey is published.

The labur cost index was revised in the publication of fourth quarter 2018, due to the results in the labour cost survey 2016.